Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell 

Written and Illustrated by Selina Alko

A look into the life that shaped the music of Joni Mitchell.  Alko’s book is a must read for music and art lovers, aspiring musicians, and any one else who has, at one time or another, felt at odds with the world around them.  Beginning with her childhood in rural Canada and following her journey to become one of the premiere folk/rock artists of the later 20th century,  Joni paints a picture of the evolution of the life, music, and process by which Joni Mitchell created some of the most beloved folk and rock songs of her, or any other era.  Vibrant illustrations composed of mixed media complement the lyrical words evocative of Joni Mitchell’s music.  Includes a complete discography of Mitchell’s work.  

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read 

Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, Illustrated by Oge Mora

Hubbard tells the story of Mark Walker, born a slave on an Alabama plantation, who first learned to read when she was 114 years old.  Mora’s illustrations provide a texture and depth that makes it seem as if you can reach out and touch them.  Inspiring as May Walker’s story may be, Hubbard does not shy away from the reasons why Mary Walker did not learn to read earlier in life.  Hubbard and Mora’s work engages with these difficult issues in an age appropriate manner and provides a good starting point for further discussions on the subject.  Real photographs of Mary Walker that adorn the inside of the book covers are a nice touch.

The Cool Bean 

Written by Jory John, Illustrated by Pete Oswald

From the duo who have created the best selling books, The Good Egg and The Bad Seed  comes a story about what it takes to be cool.  The Cool Bean tells the story of a young bean who, like all of us at one point or another, is unsure of his place in the world.  He admires the cool beans, for whom everything just seems to work out.  He has resigned himself to being just an ordinary, uncool bean when a series of very unfortunate events teach him a surprising lesson about what it takes to be cool.  John and Oswald bring their unique sense of charm and whimsy to this delightful story about friendship, kindness and being cool.

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Written by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Adam Rex

A truly imaginative and wildly entertaining “origins story,” The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors follows the adventures of Rock, Paper and Scissors.  Although they are the three greatest warriors in the entire world, Rock, Paper, and Scissors are unsatisfied.  Desperate to face a new challenge, each set out on a quest to find some opponent, any opponent, who can beat them in one on one combat.  Eventually these three great warriors meet and an epic battle ensues with pleasant results for all three of our heroes.  Daywalt’s witty, well paced writing combines with Rex’s vivid illustrations, which often feel like a still from an action movie, to create a truly unique, laugh out loud story.

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