Book Reviews

Book Review: The Book Tree

The Book Tree by Paul Czajak and Rashin Kheiriyeh

AUTHOR: Paul Czajak

ILLUSTRATOR: Rashin Kheiriyeh

PUBLISHER: Barefoot Books

AGE RANGE: 4-9

EXCERPT:

When young Arlo accidentally drops a book on the Mayor’s head, the Mayor decides books are dangerous and destroys all the books in town! But thanks to Arlo’s imagination and perseverance, the Mayor finds that suppressing stories cannot stop them from blossoming more beautifully than ever. This timely allegorical tale will be a useful tool for starting conversations with children about the power of activism and the written word.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:

The Book Tree, written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh, is one of my favorite recent reads. The lyrical language, gorgeous illustrations, an important message make this picture book a wonderful addition to the home library. There are so many moments in this book that tug at your heartstrings. Young readers will feel Arlo’s sadness when books are banished. And they will cheer him on when he brings books back to life. The Book Tree celebrates imagination and reinforces the importance of literature.

“This delicious and subversive little parable of a book, with its lyrical text and anarchic pictures, is just what we need in today’s world. It reminds us that words matter, stories matter, books matter. And it does so in a childlike (but never childish) way.”

– Jane Yolen

“My favorite part is when more people become book gardeners.” -Sophie, age 6

Rashin Kheiriyeh’s art is a perfect fit for this story. I’m a huge fan of the #kidlitwomen movement. Illustrators like Rashin Kheiriyeh should be celebrated for their brilliance. And she is brilliant.

“I like that the books from the tree are in different languages.”- Mason, age 10

The Book Tree will sprout an even greater love and appreciation for books. Read this one with the kids in your life, and encourage them to tell their own stories.

Rashin Kheiriyeh

Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally recognized, award-winning illustrator/author, animation director and painter who has published seventy children’s books in countries such as the United State, France, Italy, Japan,Germany, Spain, South Korea,China, Brazil, India and Iran. She has received Fifty national and international awards for the books and animations including recently being winner of the 2017 Sandak Fellow Award, New York. She was also the winner of the Bologna Book Fair, Italy for Six times and the winner of Golden Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia. She has an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Illustration and MFA in Graphic design from Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran. She also studied at School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She is a lecturer at Department of Art, University of Maryland. Rashin enjoys illustrating for the New York Times, Google and many other publication houses around the world.

Paul Czajak

Paul Czajak got an ‘F’ with the words “get a tutor” on his college writing paper and after that, never thought he’d become a writer. But after spending twenty years as a chemist, he knew his creativity could no longer be contained. Living in Massachusetts with his wife, and two little monsters, Paul has rediscovered his passion for writing and looks forward to sharing his stories for years to come.

Learn more about Paul’s work:

Website: Includes information about school visits, resources for writers, and free coloring pages.

Follow Paul on Social media:

Twitter

Instagram

Kirkus  review of The Book Tree

The Book Tree book trailer

The Book Tree is available for pre-order:

Indie Bound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Other books by Paul:

Monster Needs a Costume, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs a Party, Monster Needs Your Voteand one of my absolute favorites: Seaver the Weaver.

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bookmobiles · library

Making a Difference on the Bookmobile

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I couldn’t contain my excitement when I was offered a position to work on the Bells for Books bookmobile for the Garden City Public Library.

Two of my favorite things: kids and kid lit. What a dream job!

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I started in January of 2017, but we happened to have one of the most extreme Idaho winters in history. My kiddos were excited to have so many snow days, but I was anxious to get out on the bus and start making a difference.

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I worked on behind the scenes stuff while I waited for safe driving conditions. This consisted of processing new books and donations, repairing books, and withdrawing books beyond repair. One of my favorite things was reading personal notes on the end pages of donated books. These books were special to the initial reader and would be special once again to young patrons who checked them out.

The purpose of the bookmobile was to offer children access to books and get them excited about reading. Many of these kids did not own books or were unable to visit a library. We did not issue library cards or require fines for late or damaged books. We just wanted them to read!

We distributed snacks, hats and mittens, and backpacks with school supplies. We also ran a reading incentive program in the winter, facilitated STEM activities in the summer, and participated in fun events like Touch a Truck and Trunk or Treat.

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Patrons referred to the bookmobile as THE BUS, but we had a more personal name for him. The kids were thrilled when Thomas received his monster makeover, which would not have been possible without a generous grant from the Greater Boise Area Rotary Foundation.

Working on the bookmobile was a perfect fit for me because I only read kid lit! The kids loved that I was able to honestly recommend a wide range of picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and YA novels. We also compiled a wishlist. I searched for requested titles in our office. We would try to purchase them with our budget if we didn’t have them, or if we needed more copies of a popular title. Sometimes I would bring personal books from home that my kids had already read a bazillion times.

My kids were able to visit me every week on the bookmobile because one of the stops was near our house. Their friends thought it was pretty cool that their mom drove the big blue bus.

The most rewarding aspect of this job was getting to know the kids. We were greeted with huge smiles every time we pulled up to a stop. Sometimes the kids would even jump for joy on the sidewalk as soon as they saw Thomas. The kids told me jokes, talked about school, and shared intimate stories about their lives.

One of the most difficult parts of this job was when children moved away. A girl wrote her name on a piece of paper and gave it to me so I would “always remember” her. Kids hugged me, drew me pictures, and even gifted me their favorite stuffed animals.

It was even more difficult when it was my turn to move. My husband accepted an excellent job opportunity in Seattle, so I had to say goodbye to Thomas and the kids. I cried on my last day. Several times.

The library staff threw me a little going away party.

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Lucky for me some of my co-workers used to live in the Seattle area. They recommended places to explore with my family. I already couldn’t wait to visit the Seattle Public Library.

At the end of the party, our library director told me that I changed these kids’ lives and they would remember me.

I hope she’s right.

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Did you visit a bookmobile when you were a child? Do you have a bookmobile in your community? I’d love to hear about it!

Learn more about the Bells for Books mobile literacy program!

Check out this blog post by Chronicle BooksA Brief History of Bookmobiles in America!

Book Awards

2017 Children’s Choice Book Awards

2017 Children's Choice Book Awards

It’s that time of year again! Be sure to encourage your kiddos to vote for their favorite books in 2017 Children’s Choice Book Awards.

Launched in 2008 by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the awards provide young readers with an opportunity to voice their opinions about new books being written for them.

How were these finalists chosen? Each year, over 36,000 children from different regions of the U.S. read, discuss, and choose their favorite new books, with supervision from the International Literacy Association. The most popular books in each age group become the Children’s Choice Book Award finalists.

Voting is open March 3 to May 7, 2017. Winners will be announced on May 31st at a special ceremony featuring the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang and publicized nationally!
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In the K-2 category my kiddos voted for Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching.
This adorable picture book captivates readers with vibrant illustrations and humor. Peep and Egg are the perfect duo to show children that “sometimes you just need a little bit of help to break out of your shell.”

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl and Joyce Wan

Peep and Egg I'm Not Hatching

From Goodreads:

Egg is not hatching.

No way. No how.

It is too scary out there.

Peep wants Egg to hatch so they can do fun things together, like watch the sunrise, splash in puddles, and play hide-and-seek.
But Egg is not cracking…

Joyce Wan’s bright and bold illustrations will have young chickies giggling at Laura Gehl’s reassuring tale that takes the not out of I’m not.

Grade 3-4 category:

This debut by Andrea Zuill entertains readers with fantastic illustrations and snappy text. A hilarious representation about what dogs think!

Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

Wolf Camp

From Goodreads:

Meet Homer, a dog who heads to camp to live like a wolf! Here’s the perfect book for the legions of kids out there who love dogs and funny books.

Homer is a dog . . . but he also secretly fancies himself part wolf. So when an invitation to attend WOLF CAMP (“Where every dog can live as a wolf for a week”) falls out of his kibble bag one morning, he’s determined to go. After his people finally agree, Homer boards the bus bound for Wolf Camp, along with fellow campers Trixie and Rex. They’re greeted on the other end by wolf counselors Fang and Grrr (“they seem nice”), and what follows is an array of wolf activities, including learning to howl, mark, and hunt. Of course, Homer’s a little homesick at times, and the food isn’t very good, but that just makes heading home all the sweeter.

Perfect for all those kids anticipating camp themselves, Zuill’s debut introduces a charmer of a dog and puts him in some laugh-out-loud scenarios.

Grade 5-6 category: 

My son was bummed that The Wild Robot was not an option. He read this book four times in three weeks! He often read it to his little sister before bed. One night I overheard her say, “Pause the story! I have to pee!”

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My children didn’t read any of the books in the grade 5-6 category, but I did! If I could vote, I’d vote for Booked by Kwame Alexander. I am always blown away by exceptional books written in verse because it is extremely difficult to pull off. Booked is a perfect example of how to do it right. 

Booked

From Goodreads:

Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you…
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

 I would LOVE to hear which titles your kiddos picked!
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Happy reading!
picture books

1000 Picture Books in 2016~December

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I just learned that my husband and sister thought I was reading 1000 picture books per month this year. Wow! If that were the case there would be zero time for anything else! But…I did meet my goal for the 1000 Picture Books in 2016 Reading Challenge.

Kid lit reading stats for 2016:

Picture books: 1005

Middle Grade: 7

Young Adult: 1

I’m looking forward to reading more MG and YA in 2017. I’d appreciate recommendations!

Visit my January-November posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I read in 2016.

Top 17 picks for December!

1. The Water Princess by Susan Verde

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2. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas

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3. Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina

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4. Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski

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5. The Journey by Fancesca Sanna

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6. A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy

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7. Alice & Lucy Will Work for Bunk Beds by Jaime Temairik

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8. More-igami by Dori Kleber

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9. Ninja Baby by David Zeltser

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10. Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

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11. The Bossier Baby by Marla Frazee

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12. Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

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13. Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff

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14. A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

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15. Ida, Always by Caron Levis

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16. Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

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17. Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen

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picture books

1000 Picture Books in 2016~November

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November is Picture Book Month, and we definitely celebrated at our house! My kiddos fell in love with Not Your Typical Dragon and Nerdy Birdy. We will be adding these two hilarious books to our home library. The Tree Lady is a must-read nonfiction picture book. I also highly recommend A Hat for Mrs. Goldman for its wonderful message, and Shy for its gorgeous art.

Visit my January-October posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read in 2016.

Top 18 picks for November!

1. The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

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2. The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito

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3. Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio

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4. Goodnight Already! by Jory John

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5. Shy by Deborah Freedman

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6. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards

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7. The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins

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8. Pirasaurs! by Josh Funk

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9. Abe Lincoln’s Dream by Lane Smith

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10. Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

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11. A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary

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12. Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el

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13. Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds

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14. Flight School by Lita Judge

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15. Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser

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16. The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

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17. Just Like Daddy by Ovi Nedelcu

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18. Rodeo Red by Maripat Perkins

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Kid Lit

1000 Picture Books in 2016~October

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I have 161 picture books to go to complete the 1000 Picture Books in 2016 Reading Challenge! I discovered a new favorite wordless picture book this month (Hank Finds an Egg) as well as a new favorite interactive book (Tap the Magic Tree). I am a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers. His new book (A Child of Books) has an incredible message with mind-blowing art. Jane Yolen’s newest book (What to Do With a Box) is also brilliant. Happy reading!

Visit my January-September posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read in 2016.

Top 19 picks for October!

1. Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

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2. I Am Yoga by Susan Verde

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3. Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

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4. Water Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas

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5. How to Track a Truck by Jason Carter Eaton

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6. Albie’s First Word by Jacqueline Tourville

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7. The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp

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8. The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

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9. Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

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10. Click, Clack, Surprise! by Doreen Cronin

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11. Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park

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12. First Snow by Bomi Park

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13. I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino

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14. The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep by Caroline Nastro

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15. Max at Night by Ed Vere

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16. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

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17. Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer

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18. Tea Rex by Molly Idle

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19. What to Do With a Box by Jane Yolen

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My kiddos LOVE boxes!

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reading challenges

1000 Picture Books in 2016~September

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I read 155 picture books in September. This month I decided to focus on titles from the last three years. I discovered several of these books during a 12 x 12 webinar with children’s librarian and All the Wonders podcast creator, Matthew Winner.

Visit my January-August posts for Goodreads links to the picture books I’ve read in 2016.

Top 26 picks for September!

1. A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara

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2. Blizzard by John Rocco

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3. Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

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4. Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

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5. Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein

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6. Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park

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7. Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann

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8. Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

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9. Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead

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10. My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth

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11. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

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12. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

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13. Roger is Reading a Book by Koen van Biesen

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14. Adventures With Barefoot Critters by Teagan White

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15. Where Bear? by Sophy Henn

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16. The Sleepy Songbird by Suzanne Barton

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17. Rock-a-Bye Romp by Linda Ashman

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18. The Forgetful Knight by Michelle Robinson

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19. McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger

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20. Ursa’s Light by Deborah Marcero

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21. Peanut Butter & Brains by Joe McGee

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22. Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating

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23. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

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24. Pond by Jim LaMarche

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25. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

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26. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan

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