The first one is called "Her Right Foot" by Dave Eggers. I'm a big fan of Dave Eggers work for adults and I really love his voice, so I was very intrigued his new book, which is a picture book. The artwork is terrific-the first part has collages that have a very art deco period feel to them. The second part is also collage, but more modern. The text is amazing. It's about the Statue of Liberty and the first part of the book has background information about the Statue of Liberty-how it was a gift from France, the architect Bartholdi, Eiffel's role, how it was put together in France and then taken apart, shipped to America, and put back together again. But the second part of the book is what's pretty awesome. The second part talks about how the right foot of the statute (which you may or may not have noticed) is taking a step forward. Eggers puts forth some theories about WHY that is that are very topical to things going on the news today. This would be a really great picture book to use with bigger kids because of Eggers' very conversational style but also for the questions posed. I could also see using it with little kids, when I was a second grade classroom teacher, we used to do a unit national monuments and you could totally use it there too. But this one is big. Don't miss it.
The second one is a poetry anthology for kids about Walt Whitman. There are poems with water color art work that help deepen the understanding of the poem. Some of them are poems in their entirety and others are excerpts (which is noted). There is also help along each page in the form of definitions of some of the more arcane or unusual words for the kids. In the back, there are two pages with notes that give some background or a short explanation of what Whitman might have meant or how it fit into a larger historical context. I can see this one being used as a mentor text easily because the poetry of Whitman is so beautiful. Have the excerpts along with the vocabulary and the background information will make this one invaluable.
The last one is an animal book, YAY!!! It's called "The Great Penguin Rescue" by Sandra Markle. She's published over 200 books, including the wildly popular series "What if you had an animal...?". My students LOVE those, so you KNOW Sandra knows how to write for kids. She's also written two other books about animal rescue, "The Great Leopard Rescue" about snow leopards and "The Great Monkey Rescue" about golden lion tamarins. The other books have been big hits in my elementary school library and this "Great Penguin Rescue" is no exception. It's about African penguins. Did you even know there were penguins in Africa? I totally did not, but apparently they are, and they are in danger. Sandra uses clear text and engaging pictures to show all the dangers that penguins face as well as how scientists are trying to learn more about them and environmentalists are trying to help. The pictures are big and vivid and there are maps and charts to help with comprehension. My students LOVE books like this, so I can't wait to get this one into the library.