1. Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback 2. Neville by Norton Juster 3. When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein 4. Isabella: Star Of The Story by Jennifer Fosberry

The ultimate lesson of Joseph Had A little Overcoat is you can always make something useful out of nothing.  Joseph has an overcoat, which eventually frays at the bottom, so he cuts off the fraying bits and turns into a jacket. That way what started out as an overcoat becomes many useful things for Joseph over time.  The illustrations are a feast for the eyes.  The edition we read included the lyrics to the yiddish song that inspired the book, and Foos being Foos insisted on singing it every time we read the story.  Joseph Had A Little Overcoat is a Caldecott Medal winner, you don’t really need my ramblings to tell you it’s good.

I picked up Neville mostly because it was written by Norton Juster, the author of The Phantom Tollbooth, a book that made my life when I first read it in the 6th grade.  Neville, about a boy doubting his ability to make friends in a new town, did not disappoint.  It is also a very relatable tale for most of us who had to move around as children without anyone considering our opinions on the matter.  I loved that the illustrations include a lot of gender and racial diversity.  It also seems as if Neville is being raised by a single mother, which is another thing many kids may relate to.  Reading it out loud is fun too, as there is a lot of shouting in this book, ha!

When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat is just a fun book – fun to read, fun to look at.  Louis Armstrong probably has a more accessible sound/personality than the jazz I like (Mingus), and I thought Foos would be into it.  In the book a little girl gets into Satchmo by listening to records with her mom, and later dreams she is getting her very own private lesson on how to scat from the man himself.  That dream makes up most of the story. It’s fun to read the scat improvisations between Satchmo and the girl out loud.  We spent quite some time looking at videos of the real Louis Armstrong on youtube after reading this book.  The story itself does not contain any biographical content, but in the back there is a nice page that does.

We own and love My Name Is Not Isabella, the feminist gem of a book by Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin (it’s how Foos learned who Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, and Sally Ride were by the time she was two).  Isabella Star Of The Story is very similar in concept to that book, except instead of it being about famous women Isabella admires, this one is about all of the books she loves (Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland to name just two).  Isabella is an amazing role model for kids. She is smart, spunky, interested in other women, loves to read, loves adventure, AND has purple hair. These books always manage to be both entertaining and informative. I know this blurb is supposed to be of Star Of The Story only, but I recommend all of the books in this series. I will probably be purchasing some as christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews this year.



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