Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Little Easter Eggs

Ten Little Easter Eggs. By Lily Karr. 2009. February 2009. Scholastic. 8 pages.
Let's go on an Easter egg hunt!
1 little,
2 little,
3 little Easter eggs.
If you're looking for an Easter book that is heavy on glitter and light on about everything else, then Ten Little Easter Eggs might be the one for you. Not that I'm always anti-glitter. Well, now that I think about it, I can't think of a bookish situation that demands glitter. But I have seen worse. I can't think of which picture book it was exactly. But trust me, it was bad. But I digress.

This board book is all about the Easter egg hunt. And counting up eggs. How many eggs will they find?

It's a simple book. A colorful book. A sparkly book. A decidedly cutesy book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 29, 2010

Clifford's First Easter

Clifford's First Easter. Norman Bridwell. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 14 pages.
Hi! I'm Emily Elizabeth and this is my puppy Clifford.
This is Clifford's first Easter and flowers are blooming everywhere.
Who is hiding in the garden?
Don't hate me, but, I don't like Clifford. I have never really liked Clifford. (I think it's the illustrations mainly that I have never cared for.) So maybe it won't be a big surprise that I wasn't really a fan of Clifford's First Easter. It is a book with flaps. Or perhaps I should say with flaps! (I thought there were a few too many flaps.)

If you have a little one that loves Clifford--either the books or the TV show--then pick this one up. It would be a fine choice for your little one! And I suppose there could be Easter books with more gimmick than this one. (At least this one doesn't have glitter!)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Here Comes Easter!

Here Comes Easter. Caroline Jayne Church. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 14 pages.
An Easter egg hunt is so much fun!
Five eggs to find,
can you spot one?
This is an interactive board book. Little ones are encouraged to help the little girl and her cat "spot" the Easter eggs hidden within. There are a few touch-and-feel elements to this one. I was surprised (happily, of course!) because the book doesn't say that it's a touch-and-feel book! (The Easter basket, in one of the spreads, for example. And the yellow towel in the bathroom).

I really enjoyed the illustrations. I thought they were very sweet! I love the little girl with red hair. And pig tails! So very sweet!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Quack! Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Holly Meade. 2010. February 2010. Candlewick Press. 16 pages.

Mama Duck calls quack, quack, quack!
Ducklings hatching crack, crack, crack!

It's spring! It's time for baby ducklings to hatch. Does your little ones love ducks? Or should I say little duckies?! Then Quack! may just bring a smile or two! It's cute. It's simple. It's playful. There's a certain joy to being silly with animal sounds!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 26, 2010


Hop! Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Holly Meade. 2010. February 2010. Candlewick Press. 16 pages.

Baby bunnies bump and bumble.
Cottontails take a tumble.

Bunny bouncers all play tag.
Bunnies zig, bunnies zag.

It's spring! It's time for these bunnies to have some fun, fun, fun!

This one is what it is. A simple, yet playful, book about bunnies for the littlest ones in our lives. It's cute. It's simple. It's fun. And don't babies deserve books in their Easter baskets?!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons On Love

Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love. By Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer. 2009. October 2009. HarperCollins. 40 pages.
Endearment means,
Come here, my sugar, my cookie,
my sweet little morsel.
This is the third "cookie" book. Other titles in the series include Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons and Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons. Each one offers readers cookie-inspired definitions on how to best live life. These are sweet little books about life, love, and friendship. Very family friendly. Very old-fashioned, in a way. The illustrations have this tender sweetness to them that you'd expect from a greeting card. (Not that that is a bad thing. It isn't. It's comforting. It's traditional.)
Considerate means,
I waited until you got home so we
could lick the bowl together.
Forgive means,
I needed some time to get over what you said
about my cookies--'cause that wasn't very nice--but
now I think I'm ready to play with you again.
I love, love, love Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is one of my favorite writers. And I do love these cookie books. I especially love the first book which seemed so original, so unique. But I think some of her other books are more kid-friendly. Books like Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink, Duck! Rabbit! and The OK Book. She's got plenty of books that would be great for reading aloud to your own kids, or for choosing to read aloud for group story time. But I think these cookie books, perhaps, are for a different audience. An older audience.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot Rod Hamster

Hot Rod Hamster. Cynthia Lord. Illustrated by Derek Anderson. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.

Great day, grin day, build a car to win day,
Cheer day, chase day, gonna have a race day!

"I need a hot rod!"
"A hot rod for a hamster? You'll need something very small."
"And fast!"
This hamster has big, big dreams! He wants to build a racing car! And he may have come to the right place. He gets to build his dream car. Choose for himself just what he needs, what he wants!

For example,
Old car, new car, shiny painted blue car,
Rust car, clean car, itty-bitty green car.

Which would you choose?

Readers get asked to "choose" on each spread. They can then turn the page to see what the hamster decided.

What did I like about this one? I liked the rhythm of it. The steady-beat-of it. I also thought it was a funny book. Now I'm not one to automatically think a book about racing hamsters is cute or funny. But this one somewhere along the way won me over.

I think the bold illustrations are a plus as well!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maggie's Monkeys

Maggie's Monkeys. Linda Sanders-Wells. Illustrated by Abby Carter. 2009. April 2009. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Last week, a family of pink monkeys moved into our refrigerator. At least that's what my little sister, Maggie, said. She announced that the monkeys were in there and put a bowl of peanuts for them next to the juice pitcher. Nobody else could see any monkeys, but that didn't seem to matter to anybody except me.

Maggie's Monkeys is narrated by an exasperated older brother (a middle child, by the way) who just can't fathom why his parents (and older sister) are going along with his younger sister Maggie's wild-and-crazy imagination. Pink monkeys?! Really?! In the refrigerator?!

Yet when his own friends start to tease her...what's an older brother to do but lend a hand?!

I found this one to be a cute book, a funny book, with some heart! I loved the story of this one. How a brother and sister can not get along, and yet, when it really matters, when it really counts, they can be there for one another.

I enjoyed the illustrations. Readers should be on the look out for the pink monkeys! They might just find a few!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday. by Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Helen Craig. 2009. August 2009. Candlewick Press. 24 pages.

One Thursday on Bonnie Bumble's farm, everyone was thirsty--especially the flowers.
The snapdragons snapped.
The tiger lilies growled.
The Johnny-jump-ups jumped up and down.
And the black-eyed Susans were spoiling for a fight.

What's poor Bonnie Bumble to do? Her plants are very thirsty! And there's not a rain cloud in sight?! But there is that one pitiful looking cloud floating by over there...if only there was a way to tempt it...

Can Bonnie think of a clever way to make the rain come?

This one is cute and funny! I liked it! And I do recommend it!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mercy Watson Something Wonky This Way Comes

Mercy Watson Something Wonky This Way Comes. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2009. Candlewick Press. 96 pages.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Mr. Watson, Mrs. Watson, and Mercy live together in a house at 54 Deckawoo Drive. One Saturday afternoon, Mr. Watson said to Mrs. Watson, "My darling, my dear, there's a movie at the Bijou called When Pigs Fly."
"When Pigs Fly!" said Mrs. Watson. "What an inspiring title. Mercy, did you hear?"
Mercy did not hear.
Mercy did not hear because Mercy was not listening.

What does make Mercy's ears perk right up is when she learns that this drive in movie theater serves real butter on their bottomless bags of popcorn. Yes, butter. Yes, bottomless. The Watsons are in heaven at the thought of all that means. So this threesome heads to the movies! Do you think they'll be trouble? Do you think Mercy can behave herself at the movies?

I thought this one was very funny. I definitely liked it!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gift Ideas for the Easter Basket

The Easter bunny can bring more than candy. Consider giving books instead of (or in addition to sweets) this year. (Or if the Easter bunny doesn't visit your house--he never visited mine--grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles might still feel the desire to give special treats at this time of year!) Here are a few of my favorites:

Beautiful Babies by Karma Wilson
Little Scholastic's Colors by Justine Smith
What Does Baby Say? by Karen Katz
Who Do You See by Will Grace
Baby Faces by Margaret Miller
Look At You! A Baby Body Book by Kathy Henderson

I really can't say enough good things about Margaret Miller's books. (I Love Colors, What's On My Head?, Baby Food, and, of course, Baby Faces)

And here are some picture book recommendations as well:

On the Farm by David Elliott
Mortimer's First Garden by Karma Wilson
Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson
Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar
No Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke
Too Purpley by Jean Raidy

The Grasshopper Hopped! and Cat the Cat Who is That? would be fun choices as well!

And my final set of recommendations:

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
Alvin Ho: Allergic To Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Jack Russell: Dog Detective: Dog Den Detective by Darrel and Sally Odgers

Please share your recommendations in the comments! I'd love to hear what your favorites are!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Bedtime Bunny (Snuggle-Me Stories)

Bedtime Bunny. Sandra Magsamen. 2009. [January 2009] Little Brown. 20 pages.

Bedtime bunny is on her way...
to help you say goodbye to the day.
At bedtime she loves to snuggle with you.
But first there are some things you need to do...

A bedtime board book about bedtime routines. A simple book. Nothing particularly new or unique about this one. But it is cute and sweet enough. It is part of a series. Each come with a little finger puppet.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

I Love My Little Storybook

I Love My Little Storybook. By Anita Jeram. 2010. February 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
I love my little storybook.
I love the way it looks.
I love the way it feels.

I love the places
I can go to in my
This little bunny just loves to read. So is it any wonder that he (or she) love, love, loves his (or her) storybook?!

This one is cute and charming. If you pay special attention to the illustrations, you'll realize quite a lot is happening! Do you notice the bunnies with fairy wings?! How about the tiny elephant?! It may take a few readings to pick up on every little thing! But that's what makes picture books so fun!

I think this one says quite a lot about the joys of reading and the joys of having a very active imagination! Both are things to be celebrated (and encouraged), in my opinion, so I am definitely happy to recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise

Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise. Kate DiCamillo. 2007. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 73 pages.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Mr. Watson, Mrs. Watson, and Mercy live together in a house at 54 Deckawoo Drive. One October afternoon, in the living room of the house on Deckawoo Drive, Mrs. Watson had an idea.

It's Halloween. And the Watsons are celebrating. Mercy just has to go trick or treating, you know! What should her costume be? I bet you can guess just from the title alone! I bet you can also guess that things won't quite go according to plan. (They never seem to when Mercy is around!) Yes, trouble is to be found once again on Deckawoo Drive. Good thing, these three have become chummy with the police and firemen!

I like this series because it's funny. It's funny in a strange way at times.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: Too Much Kissing

Too Much Kissing: And Other Silly Dilly Songs About Parents. Written by Alan Katz. Illustrated by David Catrow. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 30 pages.

These "silly" poems try their best (I suppose) to be "silly dilly" songs. Using familiar (or familiarish*) melodies or tunes, Alan Katz has written poems for children about contemporary family life. The jacket flap reads that this "new collection of songs...hilariously express every child's feelings about their parents!" That's quite a boast, isn't it? One that rubs me slightly the wrong way. Because how can any one book express every child's feelings! That's just silly! I mean really.

There's "They're Always On The Cell" to the tune of "Farmer in the Dell" and "I Am On A Schedule" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Then there is "My Mother Just Rushes Through Bedtime" to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."
My Mother Just Rushes Through Bedtime

My mother just rushes through bedtime.
With stories, she sure cuts them short.
If she keeps this up, you can bet I'm
Taking her to fairy tale court.

Mother, Mother,
I know that down deep you do care, do care.
But, oh brother,
Goldilocks met more than one bear!

My mother just zips right through bedtime.
With books, she turns pages by twos.
While she races out to watch prime time,
I lie in the dark so confused.

Mother, Mother,
Through another story you've blown, you've blown.
And, oh brother,
Jill didn't fetch water alone!
It goes on for two more stanzas. But you get the idea! Another of my favorites is "Disgusting Things" to the tune of "My Favorite Things."

Some of the 'poems' work better as 'songs' than others. I had a hard time making some of these poems fit into their tunes. I don't know if the fault is his or mine. Sometimes you have to have a knack for placing the syllables just so. Still, a few seemed more difficult than I'd have liked.

On a positive note, some of the poems are funny and work quite well!

*I'm curious how many kids would really know My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean. Has this song had a resurgence of popularity that I missed out on? True, I know the song. But I attribute that more to discovering the Beatles cover of it during my obsessive teen years. And Sidewalks of New York?! I've never ever heard that one?! Is it well known?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mercy Watson Fights Crime

Mercy Watson Fights Crime. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2006. Candlewick. 80 pages.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Each night, they sing the pig to sleep. Then they go to bed.

This book concerns what happens one night when Mr. and Mrs. Watson (and Mercy) do not sleep soundly in their beds. (And no, this isn't because Mercy breaks their bed again.) No, this is what happens when a wanna-be-cowboy breaks into their house. He's a thief. Leroy Ninker is his name. And the noise he makes--particularly the noise he makes handling the toaster--awaken Mercy from her sleep. Will Mercy stop this burglar? Will she save the day again?

This is the third book in the Mercy Watson series. What I like best about this series are the characters. How Kate DiCamillo can say so much in so few words. How well she shows readers instead of telling them.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2006. Candlewick Press. 80 pages.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Every Saturday, Mrs. Watson makes a special lunch.

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride is the second in Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series for young readers. The books are short and funny. If you like quirky. Because even though these books may be for younger readers--a younger audience than Tales of Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane--DiCamillo still brings quirky characters to life, still brings plenty of humor.

In this adventure, Mercy decides she wants to do the driving. Mr. Watson knows that pigs should not drive. Even if they are porcine wonders. Even if they're toast-and-butter-loving porcine wonders. But when Mercy decides she wants to do something, well, you better get out of her way. Because this is one stubborn pig! Will Mercy get to do more than ride?!

I liked the introduction of Officer Tomilello. I think he is great fun!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mercy Watson To The Rescue

Mercy Watson to the Rescue. Kate DiCamillo. 2005. Candlewick Press. 80 pages.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Each night, they sing Mercy to sleep.

Can a pig save her human 'parents'? That is the question raised in Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson To The Rescue. Why do Mr. and Mrs. Watson need to be rescued? Well, Mercy herself--if she could do more than oink--might tell you if you could get her mind off food. You see, it all starts one night when Mercy becomes frightened. She runs and jumps in the Watsons' bed. And there the trouble starts. All three are sleeping, dreaming busy little dreams, unaware that danger is lurking!

What does Mercy dream of? Whether asleep or awake, Mercy's mind is always, always on food. In particular, her favorite food, lovely buttered toast. But can Mercy's weakness lead to some saving strength?

I liked this one. Kate DiCamillo's writing is charming.

The Lincoln Sisters live next door to the Watson.
Eugenia Lincoln is the older sister.
She has many opinions.
One of Eugenia's opinions is that pigs should not live in houses.
Eugenia often says, "Listen closely to me, Baby. Pigs are farm animals. They belong on farms. They do not belong in houses."
"Yes, Sister," says Baby.
Baby Lincoln is the younger sister.
She is the baby of the family.
Baby agrees with everything Eugenia says.
It is easier that way.
But secretly, Baby has an opinion of her own.
Baby's opinion is that Mercy is good company. (26-27)
This is the first in the Mercy Watson series for young readers.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leprechauns and Irish Folklore

Leprechauns and Irish Folklore. Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.

This book is a Magic Tree House Research Guide. It is a companion to Leprechaun in Late Winter. This book is written from Jack and Annie's perspective. Like they're giving a report on what they've learned from their research. The book focuses on Ireland's rich folklore.

It provides young readers with information about Ireland and serves as an introduction to Ireland's folklore. It introduces the various types of faeries (and other magical creatures) found traditionally in Ireland's folklore. Some like leprechauns you've probably heard of. Others may be a bit unfamiliar. Like Grogochs and Ballybogs.

It also introduces some important folklorists to young readers. Men and women who devoted their lives to preserving Ireland's culture and language. (Stories, dances, musics, etc.)

Call me weird, but I actually enjoyed this Magic Tree Research Guide more than the Magic Tree House story itself!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Leprechaun in Late Winter

Leprechaun in Late Winter. Mary Pope Osborne. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.

It was a chilly afternoon in late winter.

This was my first to read in the Magic Tree House series. And I wasn't too terribly impressed. I think that has more to do with me being an adult reader than the quality of the writing itself. The series stars two kids Jack and Annie. And the books follow their adventures in a Magic Tree House that transports them back and forth in time. They can go any where in the world to any time in the world. This adventure finds them in Ireland in 1862. The mission this time is to inspire a young girl, Augusta, to be creative. She is a young girl who doesn't know her own talents, her own strengths. And Merlin wants these two modern-day kids to help her out, to set her on the right path.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Young Zeus

Young Zeus By G. Brian Karas. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 48 pages.

This is the story of how young Zeus, with a little help from six monsters, five gods (his brothers and sisters), his mother, and an enchanted she-goat (that's me!), became god of gods, master of lightning and thunder, and ruler over all.

On a night long, long ago, Rhea gave her baby Zeus to Amaltheia, the enchanted she-goat, who lived in a cave on the peaceful island of Crete.

A picture book introduction to Greek mythology and an introduction to the story of how Zeus became Zeus. The jacket flap is fun on this one. It reads, "A mighty tale for every kid who has ever wanted to shout: You are not the boss of me!"

Though this one is a picture book, I'd guess this one is more for older readers. There is a lot of text, and it might be tiresome as a read aloud for younger ones.

What did I think of this one? I liked it. Mostly. There were some things I really enjoyed. There were times it was really smart and funny. And times it was very playful. For example, towards the end we read:
It was settled. Young Zeus became ruler of heaven and earth. He divided up chores and scheduled playtimes. His mother, Rhea, was so proud.
And thus began fun and order on Mount Olympus.
I think it is successful in making mythology fun and understandable to kids.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Mermaid Queen

Mermaid Queen. Shana Corey. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2009. [April 2009]. Scholastic. 48 pages.

Annette Kellerman loved to make waves.

The full title of this one is Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History. Picture book biographies can be tricky at times. But I think this one works well. It tells a vibrant story about a fascinating woman. A woman that most readers are probably unfamiliar with. (Have you heard of Annette Kellerman?! Would you have known who she was as a child?) As I said, the storytelling works in this biography. Because whether you've heard of her before or not, you come to care by the end! (Perhaps that should be, I came to care! Since I can't promise that you'll make the same connection with the book that I did. Reading is subjective after all.)

Annette's father taught her to swim to strengthen her legs. Her mother wanted her to do something artistic like be a dancer. So Annette began to work at swimming artistically. She felt free; she felt wonderful; she felt amazing in the water. She was fast. She was beautiful. But she was misunderstood by a society that had little use for women athletes. The very idea that a woman could be athletic was so novel, so foreign. That a woman would want to be athletic in the first place. The world of sports was no place for a woman after all! But Annette wasn't easily discouraged. And her story I think is interesting and significant.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Clementine, Friend of the Week

Clementine, Friend of the Week. Sara Pennypacker. Illustrations by Marla Frazee. 2010. July 2010. Hyperion. 176 pages.

I couldn't wait for Margaret to get on the bus Monday afternoon.

This is the fourth Clementine book. Others in the series include Clementine (2006), The Talented Clementine (2007), and Clementine's Letter (2008).

There is so much to love about Clementine. I hardly know where to begin. Well, that's not exactly true. If you are not familiar with Clementine, you should definitely begin at the beginning. And you should go ahead and check out the whole series while you're at it! She's fun. She's spirited. (But not particularly in a bratty kind of way.) And she's unforgettable.

What is this Clementine book about? Well, it is Clementine's turn to be "friend of the week." Her classmates will be creating a booklet about Clementine. What will her classmates say? What kinds of compliments will she receive? How do her classmates see her? Do they like her? Or not? As Clementine worries about what kind of friend she really is, what kind of person she really is, readers get treated to a heartfelt adventure. It's a thoughtful book that delighted me. This may just be my favorite Clementine yet.

What I liked about this one was that it showed Clementine could do more than get into trouble and be cute while doing so.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Emily's Fortune

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. 2010. [June 2010] Random House. 160 pages.

When eight-year-old Emily found herself alone in the world, she didn't have much: a few dresses, a couple of books, and a small green turtle named Rufus.

I can't say that I'm a fan of the cover. But. I don't think it's exactly fair to judge a book solely on the cover. I am glad I read this one. While I didn't love, love, love it, I did enjoy it.

What is Emily's Fortune about? Well, it's set in the Old West. Emily is an orphan who is trying to make her way west to live with her Aunt Hilda. Hilda is her preferred choice of guardian, though there is one who is a closer relation, a dreadful sort of uncle. Here is how Emily describes him. "Uncle Victor had the silver-black hair of a wolf, the eyes of a weasel, the growl of a bear, and a tiger tattoo on his arm." How will she get there? With a little help from her friends. Her first set of helpful friends are her neighbors. Mrs. Ready. Mrs. Aim. Mrs. Fire. Though she soon leaves their company, she never ceases to rely upon the advice she has received from them, the things she's learned from them. Her next friend is a new one. A young boy--who is a fellow orphan of course--named Jackson.

Her way west is full of one adventure after another. As you might expect!

What this one has going for it is that it is funny. It is definitely always trying to be funny in a sometimes clever, sometimes obvious kind of way. Like with her neighbors Ready, Aim, and Fire. And the Catchum Child-Catching Services. Each chapter tries to end in a cliff-hanger.

I might have liked this one a little bit more if Emily had been a bit more spirited.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Whose Mouse Are You?

Whose Mouse Are You? By Robert Kraus. Illustrations by Jose Aruego. 1970. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Whose mouse are you?
Nobody's mouse.
Where is your mother?
Inside the cat.
Where is your father?
Caught in a trap.
Where is your sister?
Far from home.
Where is your brother?
I have none.
What will you do?

What can a little mouse do to set things right? You might just be surprised at all the twists in this one!

This strange little picture book is celebrating its fortieth year. Are you familiar with Whose Mouse Are You? Was it a part of your childhood? Are you familiar with Robert Kraus?

I didn't grow up with Whose Mouse Are You? In fact, I didn't discover this one until a few weeks ago. I was familiar with Leo the Late Bloomer. And it was because I recognized the author's name that I picked this one up.

What is this one about? A mouse that has nothing...and everything. It's a strange little book in some ways, in many ways. Yet it's an interesting kind of strange, I think. Have you read this one? What do you think?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach

Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach. Melanie Watt. 2008. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.

Scaredy Squirrel never goes to the beach. He'd rather vacation at home alone where it's safe than risk being surrounded by the wrong crowd.

To avoid encountering the wrong kinds of crowds, Scaredy Squirrel plans on making his own private beach, right at the bottom of his nice happy nut tree. True, kitty litter doesn't have quite the same feel as sand. But still, a few sacrifices must be made for safety, right? But there is one thing his beach needs--really needs to be complete. Seashells. What's a squirrel to do? This one heads off to the real beach to get a few. To bring home. What will he learn along the way?

This one is funny and cute. I definitely liked it!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel. Melanie Watt. 2008. Kids Can Press. 42 pages.

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. He'd rather stay in his safe and familiar tree than risk venturing out into the unknown. The unknown can be a scary place for a squirrel.

I really liked this picture book. I liked Scaredy Squirrel a lot. I could relate to him in some ways. Because the unknown can be a bit scary. Readers may not share Scaredy Squirrels exact fears--green Martians, killer bees, tarantulas, poison ivy, germs, and sharks--but chances are they can relate to fearing something. Scaredy Squirrel is thrust into an adventure and forced into facing the unknown. And he learns that sometimes fears are just silly, and that life is meant to be enjoyed, to be lived. Out of the nut tree.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pigs Make Me Sneeze

Pigs Make Me Sneeze! An Elephant & Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2009. Hyperion. 64 pages.

What do you want to do today?

In this sad adventure, Piggie learns that Gerald may not get to do what he wants today. Her friend, the oh-so-faithful, oh-so-fun elephant, has the sniffles, the sneezes. Gerald is almost convinced that their friendship is doomed. You see, he thinks that he may be allergic to pigs! Oh no! Can this friendship be saved? Will a trip to the doctor (a cat) cure him of his new allergy? Or is this the end of one of the greatest friendships?

It's never fun to be sick, to have a cold. But maybe reading a stack of Elephant and Piggie books will cheer up anyone feeling under the weather. Have you read them all yet?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Watch Me Throw the Ball

Watch Me Throw the Ball. (An Elephant and Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2009. Hyperion. 64 pages.

La, la, la! A ball!
You found my ball!
This is your ball?
Yes. I threw it from way over there!

When Piggie finds a ball, she just wants to have a little fun. Little does she know that she's just one throw away from being Super-Pig. Did Piggie really throw the ball all around the world? What do you think? Can Gerald let down his friend nice and easy? Read and see in this Elephant and Piggie adventure!

I liked this one. It's fun to see the message that you don't have to be the best in order to have fun--lots of fun!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) Mo Willems. 2008. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Are you ready to play outside?
Yes! Yes! Yes!

These two best friends may be ready to play outside--ready to do everything--but the weather has something else in mind! Oh no! What are two friends to do when all their big plans are ruined by the rain? Can these two find a way to still have fun no matter what the weather?

This is a fun story. I loved the spirit of this one. How Gerald and Piggie learn that you can almost always have fun if you make the best of each opportunity. I am just loving this series. Who do you like best? Gerald or Piggie?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 8, 2010

What Does Baby Say?

What Does Baby Say? A Lift the Flap Book by Karen Katz. 2004. Simon & Schuster. (Little Simon). 16 pages.

This may just be my favorite Karen Katz that I've read. It's simple. It's colorful. It's fun.

What does the happy baby say?
What does the sad baby say?

What does the hungry baby say?

Goo-goo, boo-hoo, and ba-ba! And that's just the start!

I like this question and answer format. I like the fact that it's a book for babies about babies. These are emotions that babies can relate to. I also appreciate that this one (like so many of her other books) is multicultural. There are babies of all skin tones featured throughout in the illustrations.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan. By Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Richard Egielski. Scholastic. 40 pages.

There was a time when jolly old England was not so jolly. Children worked in factories. Queen Victoria frowned. Everything was grim. Everything was the make believe kingdom of Topsy-Turvydom.

Jonah Winter has written a picture book biography of two men who worked together in the late nineteenth century. Gilbert and Sullivan. One would write words, the other music. Together they hoped to make people happy with their shows. But these two didn't always get along. Sometimes these two would fight, and fight, and fight. Jonah Winter tells the story of how even these arguments could be beneficial--creatively speaking. The picture book focuses on the creation of one of their shows, The Mikado.

I do think that the book is written well enough. It's a book about friendship, about ups and downs, and how friends have to forgive each other faults and make allowances...if they want to stay friends. That friendship is about give and take.

I'll be honest. I'm not completely sure about the appeal of this one. Do children know who Gilbert and Sullivan are? Do they have any familiarity at all with any of their work? Have they heard of The Mikado? Of The Pirates of Penzance? Or any of their other works? Do they need to know? Maybe the book will serve as an introduction, of sorts. But would reading this book make you want to know more? Would it make you care? I'm not sure.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Love My New Toy

I Love My New Toy (An Elephant & Piggie Book) Mo Willems. 2008. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Hi, Piggie! What are you doing?
I love my new toy.

Gerald and Piggie are friends. Best friends. In this book, Piggie has a new toy. When Gerald accidentally breaks Piggie's toy, many tears are shed! But is the case as serious, as dramatic as Piggie would have you believe? What can these two learn about playing together? What can these two learn about friendship?

The Elephant & Piggie books are great. There are plenty in the series--which is a very good thing!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Who Do You See?

Who Do You See? By Will Grace. 2009. Scholastic. 6 pages.

I see a duck.
I see a bee.
I see a cow.

It doesn't really get any simpler than Who Do You See? But this one is so, so, so good. It's simple. But good. Just right for your very littlest one. (I think it would make a wonderful, wonderful gift at a baby shower!)

The book is made of cloth. It's very soft and grabbable, eatable. The mirror, oh, the mirror can grab your little one's attention from the start! And you can add your own animal sounds for even more fun as you read along. (Personally, I make the giraffe go hee hee.)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Curious George: Curious Baby Counting

Curious George: Curious Baby Counting "by" H.A. Rey. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages.

If your baby really, really can't get enough of Curious George, then perhaps this one won't disappoint. There are other books in the Curious Baby/Curious George series that are better than this one. (For example, I do really love this one called Curious Baby: My Curious World.)

What this one does offer is a fairly interactive way to introduce the concept of counting to five. Curious George is visiting a farm and counting animals. The text is simple enough. And the illustrations are good enough. But it's not the most engaging book in the world.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

I Am Invited To A Party!

I Am Invited To A Party. (An Elephant and Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2007. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Gerald! Look! Look! I am invited to a party!
It is cool. Will you go with me? I have never been to a party.

It's party time. When Piggie gets invited to a party, Gerald gets in on the fun. Gerald, the elephant, thinks he knows everything about parties. And since Piggie has never been to a party, she thinks she needs all the help she can get! What will these two friends do to prepare for this one-of-a-kind party? Find out for yourself in I Am Invited To A Party.

Just when I think these two can't get any sillier, I read another adventure. I just love these two friends. Both Gerald and Piggie are fun characters. Both have their silly sides! Do you have a favorite Elephant and Piggie book?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Friend Is Sad

My Friend is Sad. (An Elephant & Piggie Book) Mo Willems. 2007. Hyperion. 64 pages.

My friend is sad.
I will make him happy!

One day Gerald, the elephant, is sad. It is up to his good friend, his best friend, Piggie, to cheer him up again. (Or is it?!) As Piggie tries...and tries...and make her friend happy, Gerald seems to get even sadder. What's wrong? Why aren't cowboys, clowns, and robots enough to make her friend happy again? Can Piggie find a solution that works? Can Gerald and Piggie be happy together again?

This Elephant and Piggie book explores emotions and friendship. I really liked this one. As I've come to like all the Elephant and Piggie books I've read so far. I definitely recommend this series by Mo Willems.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today I Will Fly

Today I Will Fly (An Elephant & Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2007. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Today I will fly!
No. You will not fly today.
You will not fly tomorrow.
You will not fly next week.

One day Piggie announces to her friend Gerald (the Elephant) that she is going to fly. She is going to fly today. Gerald is just as sure that Piggie will NOT be able to fly--today or any other day--as Piggie is that she will. Which friend will be proven right? Can Piggie fly? Read and see for yourself in this fun Elephant & Piggie book.

I just love Mo Willems! I do! He's introduced some great characters and Elephant and Piggie are no exceptions! Definitely recommended!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There Is A Bird On Your Head!

There Is A Bird On Your Head! (An Elephant & Piggie Book) By Mo Willems. 2007. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Piggie! Is something on my head?
There is a bird on your head.
There is a bird on my head?

Gerald is not a happy elephant when he feels something land on his head. What could it be? What could it possibly be? Luckily, Gerald isn't alone as this drama unfolds. He has a friend, a good friend, Piggie. There is much silliness involved in this ongoing drama. It's fun. It's cute. I liked it!

Fortunately, this is just one of many books in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Knuffle Bunny Too

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Mo Willems. 2007. Hyperion. 48 pages.

One morning not so long ago, Trixie took a walk with her daddy. By now Trixie really knew how to talk.

Do you know Mo Willems? Have you met Trixie? If you don't know Trixie and her unforgettable Knuffle Bunny, then you should really pick up a copy of Knuffle Bunny. The book is very cute, very funny, and practically perfect in every way. This book, Knuffle Bunny Too, is a sequel. It takes place when Trixie has grown up a bit. (Yet she is still clinging to her first true friend, her Knuffle Bunny.) When Trixie takes Knuffle Bunny to school with her for show and tell, an unexpected adventure is set in motion. You see, Knuffle Bunny isn't as one-and-only as Trixie thought. Another girl named, Sonja, has one just like him. Oh no! (I would not have wanted to be that teacher.)

What's a girl to do when she loses her one-and-only Knuffle Bunny? Find out in Mo Willem's hilarious Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Don't Want A Cool Cat!

I Don't Want A Cool Cat! By Emma Dodd. 2010. [August 2010] Little Brown Young Readers. 32 pages.

I don't want a cool cat.
A treat-me-like-a-fool cat.

I don't want a stuffy cat.
A huffy, over-fluffy cat.

I don't want a night cat.
A looking-for-a-fight cat.

I just love, love, loved last year's I Don't Want A Posh Dog. So I was so excited to see that there is a companion book called I Don't Want A Cool Cat. Because cat lovers need good books too, you know! This rhyming picture book (with a great feel for rhythm) shows what one little girl wants in cat. After listing the types of cats she doesn't want, she then describes the one she really wants.

It's cute. It's silly. It's fun. It really couldn't get any better than this.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Nonfiction Monday: Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down!

Shake, Rattle, & Turn That Noise Down! How Elvis Shook Up Music, Me and Mom. by Mark Alan Stamaty. Random House. 40 pages.

The day I turned eight, in 1955, my parents gave me a really cool birthday present. It might not seem so great today because the world has changed so much.

This is a very personal story, a personal account, of how Elvis changed the life of this author. On his eighth birthday, Mark Alan Stamaty received an awesome gift--a radio of his very own. With this radio, Stamaty discovered rock 'n' roll music; he discovered Elvis Presley. This new discovery of his was his parents' worst nightmare--especially his mother. It was so loud, so different, so wild, so out of control. She hated it; he loved it. He wanted to buy all of Elvis' records and, well, she didn't want him to have any....until "Love and Tender" came along!

The book is written in a rather unique way. In comic book style. So it's a graphic-novel-memoir in a way. Who is it for? I've been asking that question for weeks ever since I first read this one. I don't think it's for young children. I do think older children could appreciate this one though. The graphic novel format might help a bit. But in a way I can't help thinking this one is more about nostalgia, more about reaching out to adult readers. How interested are young children in Elvis? in learning about how one person's life was "changed" by the music they heard on the radio? I'm not saying the book is irrelevant. I think it is a timeless story in a way. Of how one generation can have trouble "understanding" the next. Of how music can separate households! Of how important music is in our lives, of how it really does impact us in a lasting way. You don't have to be an "Elvis" fan to get that.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers