Friday, February 27, 2009

Old MacNoah Had An Ark

Lloyd-Jones, Sally. 2008. Old MacNoah Had An Ark. Illustrated by Jill Newton. Harper Blessings.

Old MacNoah Had An Ark is an interesting twist on the classic song, Old MacDonald Had A Farm. It is always intriguing--to me--to see how various artists--both authors and illustrators--choose to tackle the Bible Story of Noah and the Flood. This is an important story in the Bible--a foundational one. But it is often--if not always--cutesified for children, sometimes in verse. And there's nothing wrong with that particularly--focusing on the "oh, look, here are all the animals. See how cute they are!" rather than the doom and gloom of destruction. I liked the premise of this one. It begins simply (and predictably) with

Old MacNoah built an ark, Ee-i-ee-i-o.
And for that ark he got some wood, Ee-i-ee-i-o.
With a bang! bang! here
And a bang! bang! there,
Here a bang! There a bang!
Everywhere a bang! bang!

Old MacNoah built an ark, Ee-i-ee-i-o.

Readers meet a few of the traditional MacDonald characters: cows, ducks, pigs. Then the rain starts and Noah and the animals are ready for the adventure. Lest you think that those three animals are all that made it aboard, the illustrations show other animals as well throughout the books.

Some of the verses include the Splish Splash of the rain, the Burp! Slurp! of the eating, the Poo Poo of the you know what. (Yes, it goes "with a poo poo here, and a poo poo a poo...there a poo...everywhere a poo poo.) I didn't care for all the verses of the book. But most of them were fine with me. (I didn't care for the Oopsie-Daisy and Yahoo verses.)

One small thing irked me about this one. It's all well and good for Noah to become MacNoah. And the song itself wouldn't have needed to include mentioning Noah's family--his wife, his three sons, his three daughters-in-law--but the illustrations could have shown that Noah wasn't all on his ownsie. I mean, maybe a three year old or a six year old wouldn't have wondered about how Noah all on his own could have repopulated the earth...but one man can't "go forth and multiply the earth." And for Noah's redemption to have meant anything--anything other than a delay of the inevitable, his own death--he'd have needed other humans with him--men and women.

As I said, I don't think this one little thing would keep me from recommending this one. And it doesn't make it a bad retelling by any means. It just isn't quite as complete as it perhaps should be.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Everyday Prayers

Everyday Prayers (2008) is an early reader published by Harper Blessings. The book is edited by Jennifer Frantz and illustrated by Renee Graef. The book contains songs, prayers, and finger plays just right for Christian families--"This Little Light of Mine," "All Things Bright and Beautiful," "Jesus Loves Me," and "Here Is The Church" just to name a few. One other thing I should mention is that it uses rebus pictures--small pictures standing in place of a word or two. (Picture of flower instead of the word "flower.") I enjoyed this one. I thought the selection was great. The illustrations really worked for me.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bedtime Prayers

Bedtime Prayers is an early reader book published by Harper Blessings. This one is edited by Jennifer Frantz and illustrated by Renee Graef. The book is a nice choice for Christian families. The book is a collection of short prayers and/or poems appropriate for reading and sharing with children before bed. The book uses simple text and rebus pictures. (A picture of a moon instead of the word "moon" for example). I liked this one, but didn't necessarily love it. One or two of the prayers was a little too angel-prone for my liking. But that's a personal thing, so this one may be right for you and your family of little ones.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sword of the Ramurai

Ances, Becky. 2008. Oraculous Tales: Sword of the Ramurai. Illustrated by Ryan Wilson. 70 pages.

(You can read the first chapter online, here.) It features a unique and diverse cast of characters: Moo-Cow, Rhetorical, Ramses, F.W., Kiweenie, and Keby. These characters may already be familiar to you because they've been starring in the Moo-Cow Fan Club Magazine, and also had their own website/blog. What is this chapter book about? Time-traveling, story-loving friends who have an amazing adventure when they're transported back in time to Ancient Japan.

It all starts on a rainy day. (Some of the best books start out that way, don't you know!) This group of friends together hanging out--some are playing checkers, others are making cookies, but soon all come together because they want to hear a exciting story as only their friend Rhetorical can tell it. But soon after Rhetorical begins his story, the group realizes that Rhetorical is gone--vanished--and soon after that they realize that they've been transported back in time. They're in Japan--ancient Japan! How are they going to get back home? Where did Rhetorical go? Can this group of friends survive long enough to find their friend and make their way back home?

It's a fun little book. And I'm happy to recommend it. You should also know that there are educational asides every now and then that act to inform and entertain the reader. This one includes asides like "Chopsticks 101, Bushido Code, Kenjutsu, Muromachi Clothes, etc.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 23, 2009

Baby Beatles Make Me Happy

Confession time...for the past week, I've been mesmerized by one CD in particular. The album has just ten songs, and runs about 49 minutes. What makes this one special? What makes this one unique?
The ten songs are Beatles songs as you might have guessed. They're all instrumental, true. They're music-box-esque. A sound when balanced with 'gentle' orchestration is more than downright pleasant. It's soothing in a way you're probably not expecting. I mean, if someone was trying to tell me that a CD of "music-box" anything would be the happiest music, the most soothing music, easy-on-the-nerves music, I'd be convinced they were lying. Convinced they were nuts. Yet here I am testifying that this CD is made of awesome. I don't know why. Maybe the CD has subliminal messages embedded in the songs that melt stress and bring about a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. All I know is that when I listen to it, I feel better. And it's a kind of better that doesn't bring an increase of calories. Sure I could resort to chocolate or cookies, but....this choice doesn't have consequences.

Here are the songs:

Here Comes the Sun
Let It Be
Long and Winding Road
All You Need Is Love
Strawberry Fields Forever
Hey Jude
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Yellow Submarine

Do I have a favorite? Yes! All of the songs mesmerize me, it's true. They flow into one another subtly and beautifully. But one song in particular makes me extra-happy: Yellow Submarine.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 20, 2009

Snugglebug Friday: Three Reviews by Our-Most-Special-Guest

Sharkey, Niamh. I'm a Happy Hugglewug

While this is a board book, it seems to be geared to an age group older than 12 months. Snugglebug, who is now 12 months old, was not interested in the text or the pictures. Ladybug deduced the reason was too many words per page. Perhaps an older child would find the songs and rhymes of interest, but Snugglebug was closing the book two pages in.

Planet Earth: Baby Penguins
This book, too, was a little much for Snugglebug the first time it was read. The second time it was read, Ladybug reduced the amount of text for him to keep his interest. If your child is a penguin lover, then there is definitely not too much information. But for fish-loving Snugglebug, he prefers to keep the info on Penguins short and sweet. Ladybug loved the photographs. They really felt like you could reach out and cuddle the baby penguins.

Walker, Anna. 2009. Froggy Green. Kane/Miller.
Froggy Green is a fun book with fun color names. Snugglebug really enjoys this book and has chosen it during reading time several times. He has yet to be introduced to Rainbow Ice Cream and has yet to decide his favorite color, but he still enjoys the colorful pages and the fun color names. The text is simple enough to keep his attention and yet instructive enough to make Ladybug happy, too.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Got Two Dogs

Lithgow, John. 2008. I Got Two Dogs. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Simon & Schuster.

A celebratory picture book (doubling as a song!) about owning pets--dogs in this instance. Fanny and Blue are the stars of the book. The book celebrates everything dog. The illustrations by Robert Neubecker can only be described as exuberant. Bright. Colorful. Joyful. If you're little one is all about dogs, then this one might be for you!

But they're happy
And they're huggy
And they stick like
Oh, there's nothing I'd
trade for my Fanny
and Blue.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

My Dance Recital

Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. 2009. My Dance Recital: With Pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, pull-tabs and more! Random House.

I enjoyed this girly-girl novelty book. I loved the details; the intricate details that make this one special. Two girls--two sisters--are preparing for the dance recital. One sister will perform a jazz dance piece. The second sister performs ballet. There is an interactive touch (or two, or three) on every single page. Something that moves, lifts, slides, pops, etc. For example, on the opening spread, we've got one of the girls--the ballerina sister--getting her hair and make-up done. The reader turns a wheel to get the different faces--there is her ordinary one, her beginning one that is, one of the faces will show her with curlers in her hair, one will show her with her hair up, the last one shows her with her hair up and complete with tiara. This is a seemingly small detail, but one that is cute and at least to me unexpected. I liked it.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shake It Up, Baby!

Katz, Karen. 2009. Shake It Up, Baby! Simon & Schuster

Shake It Up, Baby is the book with a built-in-rattle. Something that makes me wonder, why didn't anyone think of it before? (Then again...a disclaimer...maybe it has been done. But if it has, I haven't seen it--or heard it!--but I'm perfectly willing to take back my statement if someone points me in direction of other built-in-rattles books.) In typical Karen Katz style, we've got a book about babies for babies. It's always fun to see this. In my humble opinion, the best subject for board books are babies. And we've got a reasonably diverse group of babies in the illustrations. These babies are on the move. Some are wiggling, jumping, twisting, turning, dancing, stomping, and clapping. These babies are excited. And who wouldn't be when the book itself provides a fun soundtrack!

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Do you have a little reader that loves it?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Love That Puppy

Jarka, Jeff. 2009. (May Publication) Love That Puppy! The Story of a Boy Who Wanted To Be A Dog. Henry Holt.

This one is cute. Plain and simple. Kids often want dogs. Some kids even want to be dogs. Such is the case in Love That Puppy! by Jeff Jarka. Peter is a young boy--an 'ordinary' boy--who wants to be a dog, a puppy. Peter is happy being a dog though Peter's parents aren't so happy with this situation! You see, Peter isn't always a good dog, a well-behaving dog. Simple text accompanied by fun and playful cartoon-style illustrations make this one enjoyable. My favorite illustration? The one that shows Peter's hearing is excellent. He knows when the cookies are being opened and can get there on the double! But the chasing cars sequence was fun too. Anyway, keeping it straightforward, I recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stuck in the Mud

Clarke, Jane. 2008. Stuck in the Mud. Illustrated by Garry Parsons. Walker Books.

Sometimes it's good to get a second, third, fourth, and fifth opinion. Especially if those opinions come from kids themselves. Stuck in the Mud is a book full of farm animals--hens and chicks, a sheep, a horse, a cat and dog, etc. One morning a hen gets in horrible fit when she discovers one of her chicks is missing. Where is her chick? If you guessed in the'd be right. Her little yellow chick is in the mud. But is he stuck in the mud? Read and see for yourself as these animals come together for a muddy, mucky mess.

I thought the story was okay. Nothing incredible. But not bad by any means. But when it was read aloud to a group of kids ranging from two to five--four kids total--they really responded to it! They thought it was great fun. The two-year-old, SugarCookie to be exact, loved the cockaloo (his word for chickens). And it held the attention--actually held the attention of the most disgruntled kid of the bunch. This is the one that says week after week--why do you bring books? (He thinks it's all about playing.) So this one comes to you kid-approved!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blog Improvement Project #4 (Both Blogs)

This assignment is part of the Blog Improvement Project. Week 4.

Blog: Young Readers

Do I have an 'About Me' page?
There wasn't. But I just created one!

Contact Information
I have always listed my email address on all of my blogs. But sometime in January. I did add a contact form. The one on Young Readers is found here.

Review Policy. My review policy is found on the sidebar of the blog. But I've also decided to post the review policy as a post so that I can place a link to it at the very top of the page in case people don't really pay much attention to the sidebars.

Yes. I have been playing around with my profile picture for a week now.

Yes. I added a blogroll about two or three weeks ago.

Yes. They're on the sidebar.

Subscription/RSS Links.
Yes and yes.

Other blog maintenance:
None that I can think of. I changed the background of my blog about two weeks ago. I could use some feedback on that. And on my sidebar in general. I am never sure how to arrange the sidebar content. What is relevant. What is junk. (Is any of it junk?) If what I do have flows well. Do I need to move things around?

Blog: Operation Actually Read Bible

Do I have an 'About Me' page?
There wasn't. But now there is! Here's the link.

Contact Information
I have always listed my email address on all of my blogs. But sometime in January. I did add a contact form. The one on Operation Actually Read Bible is here. My review policy is found on the sidebar of the blog.

Picture. Yes. I just went through a mini-photo shoot with my Mac to get one. But it's done.

Blogroll. Yes. I added this in December. It might could use some updating. But I'm essentially happy with it.

Archives. Yes.

Subscription/RSS Links.
Yes and yes. I just added the 'subscribe by email' newsletter.

I can't think of any blog maintenance I need to do.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Young Readers Challenge: Month Two

It is time to share any reviews you might have written for the Young Readers Challenge. (Sign ups are still going on here.)

If you don't have a link to share, you can always just talk about your books in the comments themselves.

Debi's recent reads are discussed here.
Kristina's tracking her progress for the challenge here.
Tif has read Little Skink's Tail.
Shel Burns has been busy reading:
Richard Wright and the Library Card

Buffalo Song

Board Books for Baby

Bippity Bop Barbershop

The Big Bell and the Little Bell

The Moose with Loose Poops

Little Skink's Tail

Baron Thinks Dogs are People Too!

Too Tall Alice

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Review Policy

Young Readers is happy to accept review copies (books and audiobooks) from authors and publishers. This site is specifically interested in board books, bath books, cloth books, activity books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books. Books designed for children under the age of 10. My other site, Becky's Book Reviews looks at books for readers aged 11 and up. (Though sometimes there is an overlap of material.)

I do strive for honesty in my reviews. If you don't want my honest opinion of a book, then don't ask me to review it. By receiving a review copy, I am not guaranteeing that I will review it. But I will try to get to as many as I can. If you are interested, please send me an email at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com or blaney1129 AT gmail DOT com.

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive.) Contact me if you're interested.

Authors, publishers. If you would like to sponsor a contest (on the condition that you ship directly to the winner) then I am happy to host giveaways.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

About Me

I keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.

From "The Elephant's Child" by Rudyard Kipling

What is the purpose of "Young Readers"

To promote the love of reading to even the youngest readers by providing parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, librarians, fellow bloggers, and booklovers of all ages, with reviews of current books published for young children aged 0 to age 8 or 10. The focus will primarily be on new books--published since 2006. The site also will review past titles if they are a particular favorite of mine, or if I feel that they are still relevant and would benefit from more exposure.

Where can you find Becky’s reviews?

My reviews can be found on three websites primarily: Becky's Book Reviews. Young Readers. Operation Actually Read Bible.
My reviews can also be found on the Young Adult Book Central (YABC) site. (Blog)

When is the site updated?

I post daily to Becky's Book Reviews. I try to post three to four times a week to Young Readers. And I try to post three to four times a week on Operation Actually Read Bible. There are times I post every day on all three. But there are also times when I might not have posts ready to go for OARB and YR.

How do I choose what to review?

I am happy to receive review copies of board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books for ten and under crowd. (Activity books, cloth books, books with CD or DVD, etc.) My review policy is in the sidebar of the blog.

I also review library books.

Why did I create Young Readers? Why do I feel compelled to blog?

I love to read. I love to write. I love to discuss. I love helping readers connect with books. I want to help promote reading. I want to introduce books and authors to readers. The site helps me do this. It is also immensely satisfying to do this. It helps me keep track of what I read. It helps me connect with a community of readers.

Who is Becky of Young Readers?

I am a reader, first and foremost. I am a reader who happens to have a background in English literature and library science. I have a BA and MA in English literature from Texas Woman’s University. I have a MLS degree from Texas Woman’s University. My specialization is children’s and young adult literature. This is my calling in life to promote the love of reading, the love of books, to connect books with readers, to encourage lifelong reading habits.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Punk Farm On Tour

Krosoczka, Jarret J. 2007. Punk Farm On Tour. Knopf.

For those that can't get enough Punk Farm, let me introduce you to Punk Farm On Tour. Sure, the book has been out a while. And plenty of you may already be good friends with Sheep and his fellow band members: Goat, Chicken, Cow, and Pig. This band is looking to take advantage of Farmer Joe's absence to go on a tour of their own. Once the broken-down van (looks eerily familiar to me) gets a makeover (inside and out) the band is on their way. But what song will be their new hit, the next big thing? Any guesses? Inspiration keeps hitting again and again as the band incorporates their road trip into the song--Wheels on the Van.

This one is a fun companion to the first book. One that I greatly enjoyed.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Punk Farm

Krosoczka, Jarrett J. 2005. Punk Farm. Knopf.

Punk Farm is almost too fun for words. Almost. It would be awful to say nothing about this one. To just assume that you know about this one. Some may already love it, may already have it memorized even... but if I can introduce at least one or two people to the book--that wouldn't have known about it otherwise--I can walk away with a sense of satisfaction.

Farmer Joe may be your typical farmer. But his animals are far from the ordinary. These are animals that know how to rock and roll. Boy, these animals know how to work a crowd! Pig plays electric guitar; goat plays his bass guitar; cow's on drums; chicken's on keyboards; and the leader of the band? The star of the show? The sheep, who's the vocal genius of the bunch. Can you guess which song they're rockin' this time? If you guessed Old're right! You'll probably have to read this one yourself to see just how fun it is. But it's a party of a book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Notables for 2009

ALSC has announced its notables list for 2009.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

Have I mentioned lately how much I love and adore Kadir Nelson? Oh, I have? In my review of All God's Critters. Well, it's something worth repeating. Again and again. Maybe my enthusiasm will encourage you to seek out his works for yourself, to share his works with your children or grandchildren. They're just beautiful books. So amazingly detailed, so magically right. Looking at his books make me feel--and in this instance, it makes me feel happy. I mean how could you look at this book--even just the cover--and not smile in response???

Published in 2005, the book is a picture book of the popular spiritual song "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands." You can find the lyrics on the web, I'm sure. The brilliance of this book are the illustrations of Kadir Nelson.

Here are two page-spreads from the book:

I just love this book. The richness of the details. The charm and magic of how he has captured snapshots of humanity, of family, of life itself.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wee Little Lamb

Thompson, Lauren. 2009. Wee Little Lamb. Illustrated by John Butler. Simon & Schuster.

Last year, I read and loved Wee Little Chick. (Though now I can't seem to find a review of it on the blog. How did that happen?) Now it is time for Wee Little Lamb. Readers are introduced to a lamb--yes, he is wee and little. He's also shy. Very shy. He's too shy to wander from his mama to play with the other animals. Does this mean our little lamb will never make a friend? What do YOU think? Read and see for yourself how this little one can feel safe and secure but still make a new friend.

I'm not sure the cover is really that bright and florescent looking. Just saying.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Have You Seen This?

Recently there was an article in the New York Times about Scholastic book clubs. I seem to remember a previous article that spoke out against Scholastic book clubs, but this is a fresh one. The article was about if Scholastic's inclusion of toys and games negates any good they might be doing. Some in the article feel the book club entirely too commercial and not literary enough. I can see the point being made--in a way--a video game is a video game is a video game. But lumping stickers, posters, educational board games (teaching math and whatnot) and craft books (be it oragami or necklace-making with beads) into the same 'evil' category seems a bit much. Okay, stickers and posters may not engage the mind, but are they harmful? With the educational board games and craft books I'm a bit stumped as to what the harm could be? See, both of those would be engaging the mind. It takes brain power to learn how to do a craft, and to actually do it. It is engaging your hands and your mind. And it is bound to be 'better' for the brain that watching television, playing on the computer, or playing video games. I'm curious now actually, the article is saying that kids may be ordering things just to get these goodies. Ordering a book...just to get a page of stickers. Really? I'm not saying that it couldn't happen. It might be happening. But while stickers are appealing--to some more than others--stickers are available in multiple places. It's not like there's a shortage of stickers. My thinking is at least it's not candy. I could see the outrage if it was order this book and I'll give you a bag of candy. But a page of stickers?

Personally, I'm a book girl. If a book came with something else--usually something I thought was silly or useless--that was besides the point.

If you're going to make a case against Scholastic--and I'm not saying you should--I would think that you'd target the kinds of books being included. The fluffy items of little literary value. The celebrity tie-ins. The movie-and-tv-show tie ins. The toy-tie-ins. They're a waste of money--in my humble opinion. Barely worth the paper they're printed on. Of course, there may be exceptions to the rules. And if the movie-was-a-book-first, I don't have a problem with the movie-tie-in book being included. If it's still the same book underneath.

But the bigger issue here is judgements. Who has the right to judge in this case? Is there any harm if a child chooses a fluffy un-literary book (High School Musical, Miley Cyrus, etc.) over something more literary? Is reading a book reading a book? Don't we all go through a phase where we're interested in the book-equivalent of junk food? Don't we all have to go through that phase at one point or another? Don't we all come out of our own our own way. For some readers, it may last a month or others it might last a year or two. But things do get old....and tastes change...improve. If I'm honest I'd much rather a child pick up a book that I deem 'worthy' but really the point is that they're reading something, excited about something.

A further thought...who's doing the choosing here...and who should be doing the choosing? Isn't it up to the parents as to what they spend their own money on? Parents have the power--and ability--to say yes or say no (or say not now, not this month.) They can order quality books--yes, there are still quality books in these book orders. They can order junk--yes, there's plenty of junk. They can order a bit of both. They can let their kids pick out a book or two that may not be the best book in the entire world...but they can also order something else to balance it all out.

Is literacy being damaged by the book club? Or is it being encouraged? It really is a matter of balancing choices. As my mother says, food in and of itself isn't bad. It's your choices about food that can be good or bad. Some foods are better choices than others. But all food--in moderation, of course--can be okay. If you choose to buy junk food at the grocery store...who is responsible? The grocery store? The food manufacturers or companies? Or you? Do they all share the blame? I suppose you could always argue that Scholastic could be doing a 'better' job offering 'better' choices. And that would be true enough. But it's also equally true, that just because they offer junk, you don't have to choose it. No one forces you to give Scholastic money. Parents can make 'better' choices too if they're concerned about what their kids may be getting.

And for older kids, those that may have money on their own to spend. It can be a lesson--good or bad--on money management. If you buy something, and you're disappointed with it. Or you don't end up loving it as much as you thought you would. Or if it turned out to be a dud, poorly made, not worth what you spent on it...then that is a lesson. And it's something that you've got to learn on your own. You've got to be allowed to make these kinds of mistakes. And if you end up loving it, even if others don't understand just how you could...then that's a lesson too. Everyone has to learn personal responsibility and accountability for their choices.

What do YOU think? If you've got thoughts on this issue, please leave a comment...

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Beautiful Babies

I really enjoyed Karma Wilson's Beautiful Babies. It's a touch-and-feel board book with a fun theme: babies--baby animals to be exact. What's more fun than 'petting' baby animals? Simple text accompanies the pictures. "In the spring when things turn green, many babies can be seen..." I really like the inclusion of the mirror at the end of the book. "But none are as sweet as baby You! Oh, you beautiful baby!" Mirrors are something that (many) babies just find fascinating. So this one is cute and fun.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Mighty Fine Time Machine

Bloom, Suzanne. 2009. A Mighty Fine Time Machine. Boyds Mill Press. March 2009.

Meet Samantha the anteater, Grant the aardvark, and Antoine the armadillo. These three star in Suzanne Bloom's latest picture book A Mighty Fine Time Machine. Can three friends make the impossible happen? Can they turn a seemingly ordinary box into a time machine? They can sure try! But Samantha's determination along with her keen insights make this one a fun read.

In what will probably be a rare occurrence, A Mighty Fine Time Machine had me at hello. Here's how it starts off,

"Boys," said Sam, "you've been bamboozled."
Grant and Antoine did not know what to say. They had just traded twenty Yummy Gummys and a bag of Buggy Bonbons for a time machine.

I love the language. It is so expressive. So intelligent. I'm not sure intelligent is the right word. Is there a word that means clever but that also means really, really fun? The language and style has a rhythm to it. It just makes for a fun read-aloud because the words--the sounds--are so fun to say.

For example,

They plotted and planned. They mixed and matched.
They stood back and admired their work.
It was a mighty fine time machine, and it was ready to launch.

Grant set the dials to another time and place. Sam counted backward. Antoine made blast-off noises. Flippers flapped. Wings whapped. Nothing happened.

"We're still here," said Grant.
"It's still now," said Antoine.
"Maybe we've miscalculated," said Sam.
"Maybe it's not a rockety kind of time machine."
"It's rickety," said Grant.
"It's rackety," said Antoine.
But definitely not rockety, they all agreed.
"Back to work, boys."

I just loved this one cover to cover. The language. The style. The characters. The premise. And the magical ending. Not that I'll ever tell you if this group succeeds on their mission!

Definitely recommended!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 6, 2009

Snugglebug Friday: A Child's Day: An Alphabet of Play

A Childs' Day: An Alphabet of Play. Pearle, Ida. 2008: Harcourt, Inc.

Ladybug was thrilled when Miss Becky passed this book on to Snugglebug to review. The art is bright and stimulating. Snugglebug loved this book. The art keeps his attention while the text introduces the alphabet.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Snugglebug Friday: Alphabet Animals: A Slide and Peek Adventure

Alphabet Animals: A Slide and Peek Adventure. Macdonald, Suse. 2008, Little Simon (Simon and Schuster).

This book is a Caldecott Honoree for good reason. Macdonald has taken the alphabet and made it appealing to the youngest audience. Each page is a single animal in the shape of the letter. Within that page is a sliding page with the letter in block form and the animal name underneath.

An alligator illustrates the letter A, and a bird represents the letter B, and so on. The illustrations are bright and clear. The letters are easy to recognize in the animal shapes and the pull-out pages are so much fun. Snugglebug enjoys seeing the page pop out from nowhere.

At almost one year of age, Alphabet Animals is the perfect introduction to the alphabet. Ladybug hopes he will learn his alphabet at a very early age, paving the way to a lifetime of reading.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Van Fleet, Matthew. 2009. Cat. Photographs by Brian Stanton. Simon & Schuster.

Cat is an interactive book perfect for cat lovers of all ages. Some of the cats have touch-and-feel elements--like the two cat tails on the cover of this book. Other pages have movable parts (like the fish-in-the-bowl on the cover) like swishable tails. Book flaps and fold outs and what nots. There is even a squeaky surprise waiting for you. The book is as fun as can be. If you love cats that is. (And I do.)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What A Good Big Brother

Landolf, Diane Wright. 2009. What A Good Big Brother. Ilustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Random House.

What do babies do best? Well, babies do many things, really, but one of the things they do best is express themselves. They cry. A lot. Cameron, the little boy in the story, is a good big brother. He loves his baby sister, Sadie. He's learning what there is to know about babies. He's finding out quickly that babies cry for many different reasons. The book shows that taking care of a baby is a group effort. There are jobs for mom, dad, and a big brother. (Dad does diaper duty, for example. Mom breastfeeds.) There's a whole lot of crying going on in this book, but there is a surprise there at the end. A happy surprise! Can you guess what it is?

I thought this was a good book, a realistic book. (I enjoyed the illustrations!) Babies can be loud. And crying can be frustrating. But babies are cute--Cameron loves to kiss baby toes--and they're worth it. I like that it has Dad getting involved, being involved. He isn't just passing the baby to his wife and saying, you take care of it, you make it be quiet.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Slightly Off Topic

I don't know if YOU care...but just in case...Lamb Chops is on the Qubo channel. (8 and 11:30 Eastern time). And that is something to be HAPPY about :)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

My People

Hughes, Langston. 2009. My People. Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. Simon & Schuster.

This picture book is incredible. I love the photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. I do. They're so beautiful, so expressive. They really evoke the mood and tone found in Langston Hughes' classic poem "My People." I really don't see how they could complement each other any better than they already do. You can read the poem in its entirety here. I love what Smith says in his note, "at just thirty-three words total, the poem is a study in simplicity, which is what attracted me to it in the first place." I love simple. And this poem, this book, is further proof that simple can be good, really good. A short and simple poem about beauty paired with masterful photographs.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 2, 2009

All God's Critters

Staines, Bill. 2009. All God's Critters. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Simon & Schuster.

Are you a fan of Kadir Nelson? I sure am! One of his newest includes the picture book, All God's Critters. This is one of those picture books that illustrate a song--the lyrics are well known (or relatively well known at least) and the illustrations just add extra incentive to make this a part of your collection. (And the fact that it's by Kadir Nelson? Huge incentive!) You can preview his artwork on his site here.

Unfamiliar with the song? You may want to take a look at this YouTube clip. It is not related to the book in any way...but...if you're wondering about the song itself--how the tune goes, how all those words are phrased together rhythmically, then I encourage you to watch or listen.

This book, All God's Critters, might pair well with another one of Kadir Nelson's books--He's Got The Whole World In His Hands. Looking at that cover just makes me about you?

Kadir Nelson's other books include Henry's Freedom Box, Moses, Coretta Scott, Abe's Honest Words, and We Are The Ship. Yes, that We Are The Ship that won the Sibert Medal, and attention (both an honor and a winner) in the Coretta Scott King Awards. (Honor for illustration; Winner for Writing).

© Becky Laney of Young Readers