2017 Elementary Nutmeg Nominees (grades 2-4)

mr. ferris and his wheel

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Davis & Gilbert Ford

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—It’s almost time for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and American architects are hoping to design a star attraction to rival the French Eiffel Tower. Mechanical engineer George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. has a daring idea: a huge, round, moving structure made from steel, a new metal unrivaled in both lightness and strength. After overcoming obstacles ranging from mockery to quicksand, Ferris and his team finally complete their wheel, which delights fairgoers and goes on to become a staple of fairgrounds around the world. Librarians familiar with Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City (Random, 2002) already know this story, but the focus here is less on the Chicago World’s Fair and more on the process involved in building a mechanical marvel. Details such as why support structures were necessary and how tension wheels work will engage emerging engineers, while those with a less scientific bent can nevertheless appreciate the excitement felt by the Ferris Wheel’s very first passengers. The primary story is told in an easy-to-read serif font, and secondary details are added in smaller sans-serif sections. A purple-dominated color scheme contrasts with occasional greens and yellows. Overall, the modernist look, inherently interesting topic, and strong documentation (including quotations from primary sources) make this title a positive addition, especially those looking to enhance their nonfiction offerings in view of new Common Core standards.—Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ
Phineas L. MacGuire Gets Cooking by Frances O'Roark Dowell & Preston McDaniels

Phineas L. MacGuire Gets Cooking by Frances O’Roark Dowell & Preston McDaniels

Chemistry in the kitchen? Phineas L. MacGuire applies his science skills to culinary creations in this food-tastic tale from the bestselling author of Chicken Boy.

Phineas L. MacGuire—scientist extraordinaire—has a new chore: cooking dinner every night. He may be a genius, but he knows nothing about following a recipe. A pinch? A dash? A smidge? This doesn’t seem very scientific. A pound of spaghetti? Salt on brownies? Lemon in biscuits? Why, these recipes look a little funky. But he’d better learn quickly if he and his friends are going to win the $10,000 Bake-Off prize. And to complicate matters, school bully Evan Forbes has taken a liking to Phineas’s brownies…too much of a liking. As in, if Phineas can’t make Evan enough brownies, he’ll get clobbered for sure. Fortunately for Phineas, he has the help of his friends, and even better, he soon discovers that cooking actually is kind of like chemistry. So the whole recipe thing might just work out—as long as he can keep his cool in the kitchen. – Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Skateboard party

Skateboard Party (The Carver Chronicles Book 2) by Karen English & Laura Freeman

From School Library Journal

Gr 2–5—From “Nikki and Deja” creators (Clarion), the latest entry in their new series focuses on third-grader Richard’s desire to show off his skateboarding skills at his friend’s birthday, and his inability to keep out of trouble at school. English’s on-target storytelling and Freeman’s black-and-white spot illustrations make this an accessible work for newly independent readers. The diverse cast of likable and relatable characters will resonate with kids. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
queen of the diamond

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—McCully takes a brief look at the career of Lizzie Murphy, the first woman to play in a major-league exhibition game and the first person to play on the New England and American leagues’ all-star teams. This story begins in 1900 in Warren, RI, when Murphy’s father, who played amateur baseball, declared her a natural at age six. Murphy played catch with her brother, Henry, who was on a local team, but she wanted to play first base. Though her mother voiced the prevailing sentiment of the day (“‘It’s not a game for girls'”), Murphy persevered and convinced the captain of her brother’s team to let her play when she was eight. Life was not easy in the 1900s, and by age 12, the girl was working in the mills, but she was still athletic, swimming, running, and playing ice hockey. By age 15, she was a regular on two amateur teams, and at 18, she had a contract. When the manager tried to cheat her out of her pay, Murphy’s cleverness and determination took over; she was never short-changed again and played professional ball for the next 17 years. Realistic drawings in acrylic ink reflect the attire of the times, particularly Murphy in her feminine dresses. The scenes that show her being shunned and then gradually accepted by the boys are particularly well done. The dialogue-heavy narrative and subject matter will easily appeal to readers. McCully’s book is both a good all-round baseball story and an inspirational story about believing in oneself and overcoming opposition. An excellent choice.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin & Harry Bliss

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin & Harry Bliss

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—”Saturday is the best day. Because that’s the day I go to art class at the museum,” explains an African American boy. He and his classmates discuss famous art pieces and discuss why each one is worthy to be included in the museum—because it’s beautiful/funny/one-of-a-kind/makes viewers feel good. The boy realizes that his beloved grandmother fulfills all of the requirements for a museum exhibit and decides to donate her to the collection. The curator treats his idea with respect but explains that the museum does not accept grandmas. Undaunted, the boy goes into a frenzy of art study and creation in order to hold his own exhibit. Each piece features his grandmother and is an homage to a different artist or movement. At the end, in front of the titular piece, Grandma in Blue with a Hat, his grandma tells him that the exhibit is wonderful and one-of-a-kind. “Just like Grandma,” he adds proudly. The illustrations are full of clever nods and references to famous art and skillfully done; however, none of the struggle or reality of creating art is shown, and the boy seems to create and host a museum-quality show complete with exhibit guides. It’s not clear whether he is incredibly talented or if the exhibit is pictured as he imagines it. Art quibbles aside, the story is well written and serves as a great introduction to art appreciation. VERDICT The subject matter, along with a tender grandparent relationship, makes this a worthwhile purchase for large collections.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN
Ranger in Time

Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–5—Ranger is a golden retriever who trained as a search-and-rescue dog. Unfortunately, he never passes the final test due to those pesky squirrels he can’t help chasing. One afternoon, while playing outside with his owner, Luke, he comes across a buried first-aid kit that transports him back to the year 1850. Finding himself in Independence, Missouri, Ranger meets the Abbott family, who is making the treacherous journey on the Oregon Trail. Confused by the strange sights and smells, the dog decides that this must be some sort of new tracking test. Convinced that if he passes he will be reunited with his beloved Luke, Ranger takes on the challenge with gusto. He quickly becomes an invaluable family member by babysitting the Abbotts’s ever-wandering toddler, making fast friends with young Sam, and warning them of dangers along the trail. This excellent story contains historical details, full-age illustrations, and enough action to keep even reluctant readers engaged. A wonderful author’s note at the end is full of quotes from authentic journals, factual information on search-and-rescue dogs, and suggestions for further reading. This is a stellar choice for readers just starting full-length chapter books and would be a hit with young history buffs and dog lovers as well.—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
one plastic bag

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–4—The simple format of this picture book belies the strength of its content, a story lovingly supported by charming collage illustrations. As a girl, Ceesay realized that the goats on which her village relied were dying because they were eating plastic bags. She also saw that people were tossing the used bags on the ground just as they had always thrown away their baskets when no longer useful—except the plastic bags, unlike the baskets, weren’t biodegradable. So Ceesay figured out how to use crochet, a skill with which the villagers were already familiar, to make purses out of the plastic bags. Simple but lyrical text conveys this beautiful, thought-provoking tale of ecological awareness and recycling (“The basket tips. One fruit tumbles. Then two. Then ten.”). An inspiring account.—Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX
Quinny & Hopper

Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen & Greg Swearingen

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–5—Eight-year-old Quinny reluctantly moves from New York City to the “middle of nowhere,” also known as Whisper Valley. On arrival, she decides that the new town and anything involving the new house are no fun. Longing for a new friend, she introduces herself to Hopper, the boy next store who “appears to be her size.” Hopper is a little leery about having a girl for a friend, yet he is enamored with Quinny’s big smile and “cheeks with holes.” When they get together, high jinks ensue. This likable twosome have endless adventures, such as trying to catch Freya, the chicken; climbing trees; and juggling. It isn’t until mean Victoria comes around spouting her rules for third grade that Quinny questions her friendship with Hopper. According to Victoria, boys play with boys and girls play with girls. Meanwhile, Hopper is dreading the prospect of returning to school for another friendless year. Little do the two know that school holds surprises for both of them. This is a delightful, amusing chapter book with lively, relatable characters. Black-and-white drawings add to the overall mood of the story. Fans of Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine and Judy Blume’s Super Fudge will flock to this entertaining chapter book.—Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Winter Bees

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 4—The 12 selections in this collection offer a winter wonderland of deftly crafted poetry, fascinating science facts, an amazingly rich vocabulary, and stunning illustrations. In the title poem, the bees are lyrically described, “Born with eyelash legs/and tinsel wings/we are nothing on our own./Together, we are One….Deep in the winter hive,/we burn like a golden sun.” In “Big Brown Moose,” the animal humorously chants, “I’m a big brown moose,/I’m a rascally moose,/I’m a moose with a tough shaggy hide…” Science facts about the animals’ lives in harsh winter climates appear in sidebars on each spread. Sidman explores the safe places that allow for survival, such as in the underwater beaver lodge, “In the dim oval room,/they groom, snack, kiss;/strong brown bullets that dive/in the under-ice world.” The poet also includes the role of plant species in the process, such as the skunk cabbage that signals spring’s arrival as the first plant to sprout through the snow and its importance as it attracts insect pollinators. Readers come to understand that the seemingly barren winter is actually teaming with the hidden activity of plant and animal life. Allen’s intricately detailed, hand-colored, linoleum prints jump off the page, wrap around the words, and breathe life into the foxes, voles, swans, wolves, and more. This combination provides a magnificent celebration of winter that delights and informs. A comprehensive glossary of specialized words is included. Douglas Florian’s Winter Eyes (Greenwillow, 1999), Barbara Rogasky’s Winter Poems (Scholastic, 1995), and Anna Grossnickle Hines’s Winter Lights (Greenwillow, 1995) also celebrate the season but cover a wide range of events. Winter Bees distinguishes itself with a focus on the science of animal survival, coupled with superlative illustrations. Readers young and old will enjoy this winter journey and marvel at the wonders of nature.—Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY
star stuff

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—Told in narrative format, this beautifully designed and illustrated picture book gives readers a glimpse into the childhood wonderings Sagan experienced as he looked at the night sky and imagined the possibilities. The images are wonderfully childlike, many appearing to be chalk on a dark, night sky background. The simple but lyrical text (“Carl thought about the stars hanging down like bulbs on long black wires”) conveys a dreamy, wistful quality, and the comic book–style panels and speech bubbles will keep kids intrigued as Sisson takes Sagan from an inquisitive boy to a scientist working in the field of astronomy. One particularly magnificent page should elicit gasps of awe from readers. It folds out to create a marvelous expanse that extends from a library room, where young Sagan is poring over a book about the solar system, up though the city landscape and ever upward toward the sun. Children will easily relate to and may even see themselves in Sagan’s youthful exuberance. Detailed notes illustrate the solid research and facts behind the narrative. A gorgeous, informative offering for biography and science collections.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki & Qin Leng

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki & Qin Leng

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 2—During a summer visit to Japan with her older brothers, Hana Hashimoto listens attentively to the music of her grandfather. Each day, Ojiichan practices classical music he performed as a violist with a symphony, and in the evening, he creates sounds like crickets chirping or raindrops falling on umbrellas. Back home, Hana starts studying violin and after only three lessons signs up for the school talent show. Despite her brothers’ teasing, she practices diligently and overcomes last-minute jitters for a unique performance of sound effects that are inspired by Ojichan’s playing but that definitely are her own creations. This low-key story melds a number of themes without didacticism. Hana’s determination, hard work, and creativity are bolstered by her connections to her grandfather and supportive parents. Even her brothers ask for after-dinner encores following her success. Leng’s illustrations incorporate musical notes that link the lives of the grandfather and granddaughter. The illustrations also capture Hana’s emotions, particularly during the talent show. First, the stage stretches endlessly before her until she spots friends and family in the audience, then she imagines Ojiichan’s encouraging presence. The quiet story would make a fine addition to most libraries.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato
In a Village by the Sea

In a Village By the Sea by Muon Van & April Chu

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2—This is a magical story set in Vietnam, with moody and emotive illustrations. With a classical storytelling structure and lyrical text, the narrative describes a fisherman at sea thinking of his home, as the images draw viewers in closer and closer, first to the house, then to the kitchen, and onward until finally they focus on a tiny brown cricket in a tiny hole painting a tiny picture of the very same fisherman at sea dreaming of home while waiting out a scary storm. The illustrations are lovely, with an amazing use of perspective, changing the viewpoint on every page and conveying the simple tale of a fisherman longing for the warm home, wife, baby, and dog that are waiting for him. The text pairs beautifully with the detail of the images, which offer plenty to pore over. VERDICT A delightful and quiet read that effectively evokes the book’s setting.—Sharon McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA
hamster princess harriet the invincible

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–5—From the creator of the “Dragonbreath” series (Dial) comes a new fairy tale heroine in the form of a hamster. Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is not like ordinary princesses who are known for trailing around the palace looking ethereal and sighing a lot. She is, however, brave and intelligent and excels in other hamster princess skills, like checkers and fractions. Harriet is also invincible, due in part to a curse put upon her at birth by the evil wicked fairy god mouse, Ratshade. The curse dooms Princess Harriet to fall into a Sleeping Beauty-like slumber at the age of 12 but leaves her unable to die until then. Rather than worry about the inevitable, Princess Harriet lives life without fear—cliff-diving and Ogre-cat fighting, all with her trusty quail friend Mumfrey at her side. When the curse backfires, leaving all in the Kingdom in a deep slumber except Harriet and Mumfrey, it is up to the fierce little hamster to find a willing prince able to help her break the curse and save the kingdom. The artwork is large and in graphic novel-style, with sparse colors, similar to the “Dragonbreath” illustrations. Move over, Babymouse, there’s a new rodent in town! VERDICT Vernon has created a spunky heroine readers will cheer for and who will leave them eagerly searching for the happily ever after in the next installment.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Lulu's Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst & Kevin Cornell

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst & Kevin Cornell

From School Library Journal

Gr 2–4—Spoiled little Lulu is back in a third book to tackle a new challenge: a babysitter. Despite Lulu’s objection that “babysitters sit babies, and I’m no baby,” her parents head off on vacation, leaving her in the care of the intimidating Ms. Solinsky. The little girl does her devious best to get rid of Ms. Solinsky, even preying on her one weakness, a cat allergy, but the babysitter always seems to be one step ahead of Lulu. When she discovers her babysitter’s spy training, an intrigued Lulu offers her best behavior in exchange for a little covert training of her own, culminating in an “MM” or “Mysterious Mission.” Over-the-top action and the narrator’s dry voice balance out a slightly strained plot. Kevin Cornell steps in as illustrator, replacing Lane Smith, who only did this book’s cover. Lulu now looks a little more like a regular girl, with a rounder nose and sneakers, but in the wide variety of diabolical facial expressions she wears, readers will recognize the same troublemaker they have come to know and love. Lulu’s fans will be happy to read her next (mis)adventure.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

From School Library Journal

Gr 2–5—Daniel Jackson Lim, aka DJ, is an ordinary boy in a family of overachievers. He meets Hilo, a robot boy who fell to Earth from space and doesn’t know where he came from or what he is doing on this planet. DJ, along with his best friend, Gina, help Hilo unlock the secrets of his past and stop the destruction of the planet. The first installment in this graphic novel series is a fast-paced adventure that is beautifully illustrated in full color and aimed at readers who would love to have a superhero friend. Captivating, silly, tender, and, most importantly, funny, this title will be popular with all readers—from reluctant to avid. The strength of friendship and cooperation is a theme throughout. With a cliff-hanger ending, the book will have kids eager for the sequel. VERDICT Diverse characters, good friends, and humorous dialogue coupled with colorful illustrations and plenty of action make this a must-have for all children’s graphic novel collections.—Paula Huddy, The Blake School-Highcroft Campus, Wayzata, MN