Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Cinderella. Max Eilenberg. Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. 2008. Candlewick Press. 56 pages.

Once upon a time there lived a girl whose mother--the kindest mother in all the world--had died and whose father had married again. The wedding had barely ended before the new wife began to reveal her true nature. She was snobbish, mean, and foul-tempered. Ooh, she was horrid. And she was especially cruel to the girl, whose beauty made her own two daughters look positively hideous. the stepmother couldn't stand this.

I really enjoyed this retelling of Cinderella. I liked many things about it. I liked the way it was told. (I loved the parenthetical commentary, for example.) I liked the fact that there was more than one ball. I really, really loved that. It was the third ball, in fact, where Cinderella lost her glass slipper. I liked the fact that Cinderella's father wasn't dead--he was just weak and enchanted (in a way). That it was with a little help from him that she was able to "win" her Prince in the end.

I really enjoyed the illustrations. I thought they complemented the text perfectly.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh The Places You'll Go!

Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. 1990/2010. Random House. 56 pages.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

It has been years since I last read Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go. I had forgotten how good, how true this little picture book is. It is not one that often comes to mind when I think of Seuss--though that may seem silly. Since it comes back around each and every year at graduation time. In many ways, this is classic Seuss. Silly-looking people and creatures, silly but oh-so-rhythmic text. But there is a good dose of reality in this oh-so-silly book.

Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
It is good at balancing everything. I'll admit that if it kept going in that wow, you'll get everything you've ever wanted, ever dreamed of, because you deserve it line of thought--I would have been sickened. I couldn't recommend a book like that. Life is life. It's not all good, it's not all bad. This book I can recommend quite easily.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More, More, More

More, More, More. Vera B. Williams. 1990. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

This is Little Guy.
Little Guy runs away so fast.
Little Guy's daddy has to run like anything just to catch that baby up.
But Little Guy's daddy catches that baby up all right.
He throws that baby high and swings that baby all around.
"Oh, you're a great little guy," Little Guy's daddy sings to Little Guy.

Have you met Little Guy, Little Pumpkin, and Little Bird? Oh, how I love, love, love Vera B. Williams' More, More, More. It's so sweet, so charming, so wonderful. Readers meet three young children--toddlers, if I had to take a guess--and their caregivers. It's an affectionate, playful story.

Definitely recommended. (It's also available in board book.)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Pigeon Wants A Puppy!

The Pigeon Wants A Puppy. Mo Willems. 2008. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oh, hello.
How are you?
I'm fine. Thanks for asking.
By the way, do you know what I want?
What I've wanted forever...?
At least since last Tuesday...?

Of the three Pigeon books I've read, The Pigeon Wants A Puppy! is my favorite. In this Pigeon adventure, Pigeon really, really,really wants a puppy. He NEEDS a puppy. He just has to have a puppy. Will this Pigeon get the puppy? Or does Mo Willems have a surprise in store for his readers?!

I enjoyed this one the most. I thought it was cute and funny. I really like Pigeon's personality! While I didn't love this series at first sight, I'm really starting to appreciate it. I'll definitely keep looking for the other books in the series.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems. 2004. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oooooh! a hot dog! Yummy! Yummy! Yummy! Aaaaaaahhh...

Pigeon is oh-so-happy to find a hot dog. But he won't be alone for long. He is soon joined by a guest star, Duckling. Duckling is small, cute, and oh-so-curious about the hot dog Pigeon found. He has a dozen questions for Pigeon. Questions like what does a hot dog taste like. Does it taste like chicken? Does Duckling have a plan? Is Duckling setting a trap for Pigeon? Read and see in The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog.

I liked this one even better than Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Mo Willems. 2003. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Hi! I'm the bus driver. Listen, I've got to leave for a little while, so can you watch things for me until I get back? Thanks. Oh, and remember: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Pigeon is the star of this one. Pigeon is one stubborn bird. Opinionated too. He is willing to beg, plead, whine, and more....all in one valiant attempt to do something he has no business doing. Will his reasoning make you and your little one giggle? Maybe!

I thought this one was fun. I liked it well enough. But I don't love it the same way as I love Mo Willems' other books--especially his Knuffle Bunny ones and the Elephant and Piggie ones.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 21, 2010

Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. 2004. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Not so long ago, before she could even speak words, Trixie went on an errand with her daddy....

I think *everyone* should read Mo Willems. And Knuffle Bunny is as good a place to start as any. Readers will meet Trixie, a little girl who is oh-so-easy to love. (This is one of three stories about Trixie. The third book is due out in September 2010.) Readers will also meet Knuffle Bunny, Trixie's attachment object, her must-must have-at-all costs bunny. This one is a cautionary tale. Warning parents (and caregivers everywhere) to take care...else their children like Trixie...may just go boneless. Trixie--despite her fit--is as sweet as can be. (In my opinion). And this one is charming because readers--unlike the clueless-at-the-moment dad--will guess what is causing Trixie so much distress.

I love this one I do. I love Trixie. I love her mom and dad. I love the way this story is told. The text. The art. Everything just works really well.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maisy's Book of Things That Go

Maisy's Book of Things That Go. Lucy Cousins. 2010. May 2010. Candlewick Press. 16 pages.

Maisy loves to travel. She enjoys walking, but there are also many other ways to get around.

I may not be the biggest fan of Maisy. (Though she is cute enough in her own plotless way.) But I do enjoy a good interactive book. And this one has tabs to pull and wheels to spin. This book is all about transportation. Maisy is a mouse on the go! What types of transportation are explored within its pages? Walking, Bicycle, Sailboat, Trolley, Train, Hot-Air Balloon, and Rocket. (Not that all of those forms of transportation are useful or practical to your average preschooler.) Still, even if your little one can't actually travel by rocket ship, I suppose it is fun to pretend now and then!

This one is "A Maisy First Science Book." Readers learn the "science" behind transportation. For example, with the bicycle, we read "Maisy pedals, and the wheels go round and around. That's what makes Maisy's bicycle go."

I did enjoy this one because of the way it could be manipulated. I liked making the train puff smoke and seeing the piston (and wheel) go round and round and round. Same with the bicycle. It was just fun to see Maisy pedal.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC. By Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrated By Karen Katz. Text, 1953. Illustrations, 2010. HarperCollins. 40 pages.

Karen Katz illustrates Margaret Wise Brown's Sleepy ABC. I was not familiar with this Brown title. Brown is of course best known for her books Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. This one is fairly obvious--an alphabet bedtime book.

A is for Aaaah when a small kitten sighs
B is for Baaaaaa when the lambs close their eyes
C is for Caw when the last crow crows
D is for Dreams and the Dark Wind that blows
E is for Eyes that all must close--the child's, the rabbit's, and the rose.
F is for Feet that won't fall asleep
G is for Grazing of sleepy sheep
I thought this one was just okay. (It's not as fun as the Katz book writes herself.) Part of me is relieved to find that SLJ didn't find much to praise in this one either.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What About Bear?

What About Bear? Suzanne Bloom. 2010. February 2010. Boyds Mill Press. 32 pages.

Let's play.

There is something so universal about What About Bear? Within its pages a friendship is tested and a lesson or two is learned. This polar bear and goose were first introduced in A Splendid Friend Indeed. (A picture book that I just loved. Though it was in pre-blog days so I don't have a review to link to.) Bear and Goose are still friends. But there is someone new in their lives. A red fox wants to join in their play. They happily welcome Fox. But when Fox gets a little too demanding, Goose has to step in and do something before it's too late.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Country Road ABC

Country Road ABC: An Illustrated Journey Through America's Farmland. Arthur Geisert. 2010. May 2010. 64 pages.

I liked this one. It's not an alphabet book for the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom crowd. But I think it would pair very well with Farm by Elisha Cooper a title I reviewed just last month. This isn't your typical cute-picture-book-set-on-a-farm type of book (like Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type or Farmer Duck). Readers know that from the start...

A is for Ammonia Fertilizer
B is for Barn Cats
C is for Coffee and Candy
D is for Disking
E is for Erosion

A glossary at the back provides readers with more information about each word. For example, "disking is a method of turning over soil in preparation for the planting of oats, corn, and soybeans."

What I loved most about this one are the illustrations.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Please Take Me For A Walk

Please Take Me For a Walk. Susan Gal. 2010. May 2010. Random House. 40 pages.

I thought this one was adorable. I did. If you are a dog lover, I think you may enjoy this one too! It's playful. It's cute. It's charming. It's got character.

Here's how it starts,
Please take me for a walk.
I need to chase away the neighbors' cat,
send the birds back to their nests,
and keep the squirrels high up in the trees.
Please take me for a walk.
Through the book, this oh-so-adorable dog is pleading, begging for a nice walk. Giving readers reason after reason after reason why this walk would be oh-so-wonderful.

The ending is oh-so-right too!

Both illustrations and text are too cute to be missed...if you love dogs!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dancing Feet

Dancing Feet. Lindsey Craig. Illustrated by Marc Brown. 2010. May 2010. Random House. 40 pages.

I liked this one. It was fun. It was playful. It was rhythmic in a good way instead of an annoying way.
Tippity! Tippity!
Little black feet!
Who is dancing that tippity beat?

Ladybugs are dancing
on tippity feet.
Tippity! Tippity!
Happy Feet!
My favorite, of course, was the elephant one.
Stompity! Stompity!
Big gray feet!
Who is dancing that stompity beat?

I liked the format of this one. I think it would be good for children needing predictability and patterns. (Young readers can use the illustrations and text to guess which animal is dancing.)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don't)

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don't) by Barbara Bottner. Illustrated by Michael Emberley. 2010. March 2010. Random House. 32 pages.

The star of this one is a little girl who does NOT like to read books. She does not quite understand what makes Miss Brooks--her librarian--so head-over-heels in love with books. Why does she get so excited? Excited enough to dress up in costumes for reading time? Why does she keep insisting that there is a book out there that she WILL love. That she (the girl, the reluctant reader) just hasn't found it yet. It may take a Book Week celebration for her to understand! Because during Book Week, each child has to share a book they love with the class. Will this reluctant reader find the book that is oh-so-right for her? A book to love at last?

I really enjoyed this one right from the start.

Miss Brooks is our librarian. She loves books. A lot.
She loves The Runaway Bunny. And Babar. And Where The Wild Things Are.
And The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I ask Miss Brooks why she dresses up for reading circle.
"I want you to get as excited about books as I am," she says.
I think Miss Brooks gets a little too excited. And I bet her costumes itch.
I thought this one was a fun book!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Animal Soup

Animal Soup. Todd H. Doodler. 2010. May 2010. Random House. 14 pages.

Animal Soup is "a mixed-up animal flap book" that is super-fun! I really liked this one. And I think you may like it too. I thought it was cute. I thought it was clever. I thought it worked well. It may even inspired readers to create some mix-ups of their own. (You never know!)

What would I be
if I had wings to fly...
...but walked very slowly

Bird + Turtle = Birdle

What would I be
if I were pink from head to toe...
...and swung by my tail from a tree?

Flamingo + Monkey = Flamonkey

I enjoyed The Zoo I Drew last year. So I was pleased to see the release of Animal Soup.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm the Best

I'm the Best. Lucy Cousins. 2010. May 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
I'm dog, and I'm the best.
These are my friends--Ladybug, Mole, Goose, and Donkey.
I love them. They're great, but I'm the best.
I liked this one. I think I liked this one better than any of the Maisy books I've read. (For one thing, it actually has a plot.) What is it about? It's about a dog who knows he's the best--the very, very best--at everything. He's definitely better than his friends. But. Is this dog really the best? Do his friends benefit from his bragging, his boasting? Of course not! They may just team up to give him a dose of his own medicine...

While I'm Number One by Michael Rosen dealt with bullying and bossiness, I'm the Best dealt with bragging and boasting. Both are similar in one way, both books show that it isn't easy to be friends with a difficult person. But Dog was definitely more lovable than A-One.

I liked this one. I thought it was fun and playful. It does have a message (in a way), but it was handled in a funny way, a natural way. And that can make a big difference.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Mama Miti

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya. Donna Jo Napoli. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 2010. January 2010. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
On the highlands of Africa, near forests and plains and a huge salt lick, Wangari was born. The face of Mount Kenya smiled down on her. People told stories of how in the old days sometimes the sun shone too bright too long, and droughts came. Creatures suffered. Plants wilted. People fought. So the men held ceremonies under the mugumo--the spreading sacred fig tree--and the skies blessed them with shimmering rains to slake their thirst and water their farms. Village elders placed staffs from the thigi tree between angry men, and enemies became friends. Wangari listened to these stories. That's how she came to love and respect trees. That's how she came to be wise in the tradition of her family and village, of her country and continent.
I really liked this one. I thought the writing was beautiful. I thought the illustrations were amazing. Together they make one incredible book.


I would definitely recommend this one. I loved the details in both the story and the art. While it may not be for every one--I'm not sure if it would satisfy the Goodnight Moon crowd--I think it is a beautiful story quite eloquently told.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Wild, Wild Inside

The Wild, Wild Inside. Kate Feiffer. Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith. 2010. March 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
I know what my name will be.
My parents don't know yet.
They think my name might be Molly.
But they also think it might be James.
The problem is, they don't know if I'm a boy or a girl.
That's because I'm still in my mom's tummy.
The Wild, Wild Inside is a very silly, very imaginative, very unique story offering young readers a perspective of life inside the womb. This little one is definitely busy, busy, busy. But what does s/he do all day? It's not whatever mom is supposing that's for sure! As the mom-to-be gets questioned (by just about everybody) on what the baby is doing--at that moment--readers get the real story from the baby. Is s/he sleeping? No, s/he's doing yoga. Anyway, it's a very silly book.

I did think it interesting that the last page offers some real-life stories. Kids were asked, "What were you doing in your mom's tummy?" and the responses are just as silly as can be. In a good way.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mommy Is A Soft Warm Kiss

Mommy is a Soft Warm Kiss by Rhonda Gowler Greene. Illustrated by Maggie Smith. 2010. March 2010. Walker Books. 32 pages.

Mommy is the sprinkle rain for seeds all in a row.
She helps me plant a garden.
We wait for it to grow.

Mommy is a ticklebug that
makes me squirm and giggle.
Her fingers creep-crawl
in and out...
and make me laugh and wiggle.

I loved this one. I did. I just loved it. I found it sweet and charming. It stars a little girl describing her mom in fun, imaginative ways. (It also shows a loving relationship all through the year--through the four seasons. Which is a nice feature.) It does rhyme, but it's rhyme that works. It has a nice rhythm to it. (So hard to get it just right, but I think Green succeeds for the most part.) My favorite line is this:

Mommy is a rocking chair
when time to take a nap.
Back and forth I rock and doze,
cozy in her lap.
I also liked the illustrations. I thought they worked well with the text.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

I Love My Mom

I Love My Mom. Anna Walker. 2010. March 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.

My name is Ollie. I love my mom. When I say, "Mom, what will we do?" Mom says, "Let's try something new!"

This one is a simple book about Ollie. It does appear to be in a series. (I know that there is a I Love My Dad and an I Love Christmas.) In this one, Ollie shows readers just why he loves his mom so much. It focuses on the things these two do together.

This one was originally published in Australia in 2009.

I didn't love this one. I didn't hate it either. It just was. (If that makes any sense.)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rise and Shine!

Rise and Shine. Illustrated by Tim Warnes. (Song is in the public domain.) 2010. February 2010. Board Book. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages.

Rise and shine
and give God the glory, glory.
Rise and shine
and give God the glory, glory.
Rise and shine
and give God the glory, glory
children of the Lord.

If there was an award for adorableness, I would so give it to Rise and Shine! What we have is the traditional song published with oh-so-clever and oh-so-cute illustrations. The details! Oh the details! I love this bear family. I do. I love this bear child. There's just something so joyful, so right about this one.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Noah's Bark

Noah's Bark. Stephen Krensky. Illustrations by Roge. 2010. [April 2010] Lerner Publishing. 32 pages.

Long, long ago, when people were still few and far between, the world was full of confusing sounds. Mostly, the animals made it that way. They were loud and silly and said whatever came into their heads.

Beavers crowed when the sun came up. Snakes quacked in distress. Pigs howled at the full moon. And mighty elephants hissed in fear.

This is one very silly book. It's a book that showcases animal sounds. (It's a nonreligious spin on Noah's ark.) One that focuses on animals, animal sounds, and the disorder that could arise from having so many animals in such a tight space.

The writing was funny. (If humor is what you're going for in the story of the flood.) There were some great lines that really worked:

Down below, the animals were crowded together, trying to keep their pointy parts to themselves.
This is a cute story about "how" animals got their sounds and learned to cooperate under difficult circumstances.

I could see this one being great to share with little ones who giggle about animal sounds and noises in the first place.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All Things Bright and Beautiful. Based on Work by Cecil F. Alexander. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan. 2010. January 2010. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
You may be familiar with the words of this new picture book. But Ashley Bryan has provided new illustrations to this familiar song. His illustrations are bright, bold, colorful. Very expressive.

I can't promise you that you'll love all the spreads equally, but I think you'll find it an interesting read all the same!

Perhaps this would pair well with This Little Light of Mine illustrated by E.B. Lewis, He's Got The Whole World In His Hands illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and Let It Shine also by Ashley Bryan.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday Is For God

Sunday Is For God. By Michael McGowan. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 2010. January 2010. Random House. 40 pages.

Weekdays are for school. Saturday's for having fun. But Sunday is the Lord's day. Sunday is for God. That's what Momma says.

I really enjoyed this one. A sweet story focused on faith and family. A story about making God and family a priority in our lives. Our narrator is a young boy with a big heart. He may not love getting dressed up, wearing clothes that make him uncomfortable, but he does love God. This is a picture book that is rich in detail. I was surprised actually to see just how much detail is incorporated into this one. From the choir singing

Yes, we'll gather at the river
The beautiful, the beautiful river

to the congregational singing of

Praise God from whom all blessing flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below...


We're marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God
There are also readings from the Bible. Snippets of verses here and there. Things that feel right, feel natural.

I loved how these details involve all the senses. The way things are described, you can almost hear, see, touch, taste and smell everything.

Before we know it, Momma has Baby fed and dinner on the table. It's fried chicken and gravy and mashed potatoes and greens and corn bread, and it's all ready at the same time and it's all hot. The grown-ups drink iced tea. Brother asks for tea too, but Momma says no, so all the kids get ice water, like always. Papaw says grace, and he makes sure to get everybody in.
There's just something right about this one. Though Mom was a *bit* skeptical that "Momma has Baby fed and dinner on the table. It's fried chicken and gravy... it's all ready at the same time and it's all hot."

Loved the illustrations of this one. They complement the text well. And they help create the right tone, atmosphere for this family-friendly, faith-friendly picture book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, May 2, 2010

We're All in the Same Boat

We're All In The Same Boat. Zachary Shapiro. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. 2009. Penguin. 32 pages.

It rained and it rained. It rained so much that Noah had to build an ark to protect all the animals.

As much as I like the story of Noah. I can be a bit of a harsh critic when it comes to picture-book-Noah's. But. I did like this one. I liked it for what it was. A playful story showcasing the animals and the alphabet. And manners. I shouldn't forget that element of the story! (Don't expect God and his grace (or man and his sinfulness) to enter into this one. It's not a religious story.)

What do I mean when I say that it showcases the alphabet? Shapiro's text is playful. What were the animals on the ark like during these days and nights of relentless rain???

The ants were antsy.
The bees were bored.
The camels were complaining.
The dogs were demanding.
The elephants were enraged.
The foxes were frantic.
What was it like to be Noah? To be this Noah? It's no wonder that he has to yell and shout, "We're all in the same boat!" Can Noah make these animals behave? Can he turn the mood of this boat around?

It's a playful book. A silly book. I can appreciate it for that.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mirror, Mirror

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. 2010. Penguin. March 2010. 32 pages.

I loved this book of poetry! I did. If you like fairy tales, you should definitely pick this one up. Because this book of reversible poetry does a great job at twisting some familiar tales. Each poem can be read up and down. This is also a great collection for highlighting different points of view. So "In the Hood" tells Little Red Riding Hood's story when you read one way, but tells the Wolf's story the other way! That poem is without a doubt my favorite from this collection! Other fairy tales treated include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and The Beast, Hansel and Gretel, The Ugly Duckling, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Bears. (Just to name a handful.)

Here is "Longing for Beauty"

A beast
can love
A moist muzzle
can welcome
a rose.
A hairy ear
can prize
a nightingale singing.
Beneath fur,
A soft heart

a soft heart.
beneath fur.
A nightingale singing
can prize
a hairy ear.
A rose
can welcome
a moist muzzle.
can love
a Beast.

I really enjoyed the illustrations. They're bright, colorful, and engaging. (You can see examples of the art here. You can also read "In The Hood" there.)

Other reviews: A Year of Reading, Writing and Ruminating,

© Becky Laney of Young Readers