I’ve got some treats for you this month! Tasty picture books, a new fantasy series opener and a historical fiction for horse lovers. I can’t think of a better way to finish out the last few days of winter than spending time with some new books.
“Ramen for Everyone” written by Patricia Tanumihardja and illustrated by Shiho Pate
Do illustrations of food tickle your tastebuds? They sure do for me! This book is full of delicious pictures of ramen that had me searching for the nearest ramen restaurant. Hiro is a little boy who loves ramen, especially when his dad makes it every Sunday. His dad follows a recipe passed down from his father, and Hiro carefully observes and takes notes every time. When he turns seven, Hiro decides it’s time to make his own perfect bowl of ramen! But things are a lot more difficult than anticipated, and it takes some encouragement from Dad to prevent Hiro from giving up. The illustrations are reminiscent of manga, and the text is filled with action words that capture the excitement and joy in the kitchen. The lesson about perseverance and being okay with something that’s less than perfect would be a great conversation topic as you enjoy a bowl of ramen with your kiddo! (Full disclosure: as of the writing of this blog, I have not actually ever eaten real ramen. I hope that by the time you’re reading this, I will have remedied that.)
“Cooler Than Lemonade” written by Harshita Jerath and illustrated by Chloe Burgett
After our appetizing adventure into ramen, it’s time to cool off with some lemonade. Eva has the wonderful idea to start a lemonade stand, and with her fresh ingredients and welcoming smile, business is hopping. Until her neighbor across the street starts his own stand. Soon Eva is challenged to come up with innovation after innovation as she struggles to keep up. Eventually, she admits defeat and sadly closes up shop. Then her little brother asks her to make his favorite summertime treat — kulfi. A frozen, milk-based dessert from India, kulfi proves to be the new innovation that Eva needs! But this time, she focuses on partnership instead of competition. With similar themes of perseverance, this book highlights an entrepreneurial spirit and of course, kulfi. I’d never heard of it before reading this, but there’s a recipe included in the back of the book!
“The Guardian Test” written by Christina Soontornvat and illustrated by Kevin Hong
Plum lives a quiet life with her grandparents on their island farm, talking with the local animals and tending her garden. Then Plum receives an invitation to attend the famed Guardian Academy on nearby Lotus Island, and her world rapidly expands. Guardians are protectors of nature, sworn to help the defenseless with their training in healing, self-defense and breathing. All Guardians can magically shapeshift into an animal form, but as the other students find their forms Plum is left without a single feather or scale…and may be sent home because of it. On top of her worries about finding her magic, Plum has to navigate new friendships and rivalries with students from the wealthier and more populous islands. It’s rare to find a fantasy book that fits so perfectly into the gap between easy chapter books and lengthier tomes. At 150 pages, this book is accessible and engaging, and has a smattering of manga-inspired illustrations. With the Thai-inspired fantasy setting, it reminds me a lot of “Avatar the Last Airbender” so definitely grab this for fans of the show! It’s a series starter, but book two comes out in July so we won’t have to wait too long.
“Bea and the New Deal Horse” by L.M. Elliott
I’ve got a standalone historical fiction for our last book! The stock market crash completely changed Bea’s life. Daddy lost his banking job, Bea lost her pony and Mama lost her health and eventually her life. Since then, Bea and her little sister have been riding the rails with Daddy, until the day she wakes up to find he’s abandoned them. He’s left them on the horse farm of a friend of her late mother, hoping that the woman will take them in when they reveal their connection. They stay hidden until Bea sees a temperamental chestnut suffering from colic and can’t resist stepping in to help save him. Mrs. Scott, the owner of the farm, reluctantly agrees to let the girls stay in exchange for their help on the struggling farm. Bea and the difficult chestnut have formed a bond, and begin training together to compete in horse shows to bring attention and wealthy buyers to the farm. Depression, drought and racial tension give detailed historical context to the story, while a deep, abiding love for horses shines through in a way that will delight experienced horse fans and those who have only ridden through books. This would be an especially perfect choice for people who loved “The War That Saved My Life.”