Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Favorites

These are a few of my favorites that I read in September 2010.

Dirtball Pete. Eileen Brennan.
Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming.
My Garden. Kevin Henkes.
The Cow Loves Cookies. Karma Wilson.
Clever Jack Takes the Cake. Candace Fleming.
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down. Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan. Jane Yolen.
Guyku. Bob Raczka.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia

Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia. Barbara O'Connor. 2003. FSG. 112 pages.

Harlem Tate hadn't been in Freedom, Georgia, more than three days before it was clear that nobody wanted anything to do with him. Nobody except me, that is. I had a burning desire to be his friend.

Bird has two main goals--to be noticed by her hometown of Freedom, Georgia, and to go to Disney World. Neither goal seems likely at the start of Barbara O'Connor's delightful Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia. What Bird needs even more than a trip to Disney World is a friend--a good friend, a best friend. Because she's a lonely girl. Her best hope for a friend seems to be the new kid, Harlem, a kid the others in her class dismiss almost immediately. But how can she "get" him to be her friend?

What brings these two together--in the end--is a spelling bee! What can Bird and Harlem learn from one another?

I really, really liked this one. I just love Barbara O'Connor. I do. She has a gift with creating characters that I can love and understand. (My favorite books so far being Greetings From Nowhere and The Small Adventure Of Popeye and Elvis.) I would definitely recommend this one!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pirate of Kindergarten

The Pirate of Kindergarten. George Ella Lyon. 2010. June 2010. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Ginny loved Reading Circle.
Getting there was hard, though, with all those chairs.
She knew only half of them were real, but which ones?
She always ran into some. Someone always laughed.

Don't expect a pirate adventure. The Pirate of Kindergarten is about a little girl, Ginny, who has double vision. But it isn't until her vision is tested--at school--that she learns just why she has so much trouble seeing things clearly and correctly. The end result is that Ginny starts wearing an eye patch and her vision problems are corrected.

The book is based on the author's own experiences. And it's a good story--very heartfelt.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Justin Case: School, Drool, And Other Daily Disasters

Justin Case: School, Drool, And Other Daily Disasters. Rachel Vail. 2010. Feiwel & Friends. 256 pages.

September 1, Tuesday
Okay, yes. I'm worried.
I can't help it.

I loved Justin Case. I did. True, his name isn't really Justin Case. It's Justin Krzeszewski. But Justin Case is his nickname. (He's not all that fond of it--at least not at first.) Justin is an anxious third-grader who tends to make lists in his journal.

Many things make Justin anxious--or worried--change being one of them. And third grade is all about change. He's put in the "wrong" third grade class. He's separated from his friends. And one of those friends, Daisy, has realized that boys and girls shouldn't be best friends. So she's dropped him completely. So Justin has a "scary" teacher and no friends. And that's just the start...

What I loved best about Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters was the writing.

From October 7:
I figured out why it is called cursive: because of the bad words you think when you can't draw the dumb letters right. How many bumps can one M possibly have? (37)

From May 18:
If I had to choose which is worst of:

a) climbing a rope up higher than a gym teacher's bald head
b) practicing my squeaky violin
c) hanging upside down by my knees so my shirt falls up
d) getting driven somewhere by Gingy, the slowest driver on the planet
e) walking my drooly dog every day because my parents went away

I would have to choose

f) All of the above

Welcome to my life as a third grader. (206)
There were so many moments where Justin Case made me smile. (Reading about Justin's trouble with his stuffed animals!) I also loved the book for its relationships. How Justin relates to his family--his mom, his dad, his younger sister, Elizabeth, and especially his relationship with his grandparents Poopsie and Gingy. These family scenes were some of my favorites. I also loved to see Justin making new friends in third grade! I loved getting to know others in his class--like Montana C and Gianni Schicci.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Lost Boy

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Steve Adams. 2010. August 2010. Penguin. 40 pages.

Once upon a time, on May 9, 1860, a baby boy was born in a low-built house, one of a row of such houses known as The Tenements, in the small town of Kirriemuir in Scotland. He was the seventh child, third boy. James Matthew Barrie wrote that his birth was of such little event in the family, what was celebrated on that day was that they'd bought six chairs. He talked of their poverty and how little they had. But though it was a story that he elaborated on for the rest of his life, it was not strictly true.

I loved this picture book biography of J.M. Barrie by Jane Yolen. I just loved it. Readers learn of Barrie's life--birth to death--and of his legacy. The focus is on his writing life, but it does share certain aspects of his personal life. For example, his friendship with the Davies family.

My favorite part of this one? How each spread incorporates quotes from J.M. Barrie's works. For example, for the first page--what I've quoted above--we have, "One girl is worth more than twenty boys." Readers are told that that quote comes the play Peter Pan. I thought Yolen did a great job of pairing up these biographical details with these fictional quotes. It made the book charming!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clever Jack Takes The Cake

Clever Jack Takes the Cake. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2010. August 2010. Random House. 40 pages.

One summer morning long ago, a poor boy named Jack found an invitation slipped beneath his cottage door. It read:
His Majesty the King
cordially invites
all the children of the Realm
the Princess's Tenth Birthday
tomorrow afternoon
in the Castle Courtyard.
I really enjoyed Candace Fleming's Clever Jack Takes The Cake. Jack, a poor boy, is embarrassed that he doesn't have a gift worthy enough to give a princess. But. He's not discouraged from attending. And he's not discouraged from trying to do his best. No, he's determined. He decides that he will make her something--a cake. When he leaves home, it is with a fine cake:
two layers of golden-sweet cake covered in buttery frosting and ringed with ten tiny candles. Across the cake's top, walnuts spelled out "Happy Birthday, Princess." And in the very center--in the place of honor--sat the succulent strawberry.
But his journey to the Castle Courtyard isn't without risk or peril. Will Jack and his fine, fine cake make it to the party? What will the princess think of Jack and his gift?

I really enjoyed this one. I liked Jack. I liked the Princess. I liked the storytelling. It is a story. (So expect a good amount of text per page.) But it's a good story. One that would be great to share with others.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Garden

My Garden. Kevin Henkes. 2010. February 2010. HarperCollins. 28 pages.

My mother has a garden. I'm her helper. I water. I weed. And I chase away the rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce. It's hard work, and my mother's garden is very nice, but if I had a garden...

I loved this one. I'm a bit surprised that I loved it. But I did. I loved how imaginative it is, how expressive. Her garden is a silly kind of wonderful.

So what kind of garden does this little girl dream up?! Well...the carrots would be invisible--she doesn't like carrots--and the rabbits would be chocolate! Sound good? Then imagine a garden where planting jelly beans and sea shells would result in colorful and abundant plants of the same. (I LOVED seeing the jelly bean bush!)

This little girl is very charming. She is a very delightful narrator.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art & Max

Art & Max. David Wiesner. 2010. October 2010. Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 40 pages.

Careful, Max!
Hey, Art, that's great!
The name is Arthur.
I can paint too, Arthur!
You, Max? Don't be ridiculous.
Oh, all right. Just don't get in the way.
Art and Max are friends. Arthur is a great artist. Max, well, not so much. He's new at it. He's got much to learn. Can a painting lesson turn into a great adventure? You might just be surprised!

I really liked this one. I liked both Max and Arthur. (I especially liked Max's enthusiasm.) I liked Wiesner's storytelling too. It's a funny story. The illustrations tell much of it.

I really enjoyed the Library of Congress Cataloging one-sentence summary:
Max wants to be an artist like his friend Arthur, but his first attempt at using a paintbrush sends them on a whirlwind trip through various media, with unexpected consequences.
It does such a great job!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cow Loves Cookies

The Cow Loves Cookies. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Marcellus Hall. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Whenever Farmer feeds the horse, he feeds the horsey hay, of course.
The horse just loves to nibble hay. He eats it every single day.
But the cow loves cookies.

I loved this book. I just loved, loved, LOVED this book. It was--for me--one of those wonderfully perfect books. The magical kind that feel oh-so-right from start to finish. The kind of book you feel was written just for you. That's how much I loved Karma Wilson's The Cow Loves Cookies.

The book is written in rhyme. It's set on the farm. It features a farmer who is feeding all his animals. The reader learns that the horses eat hay, the chickens eat chicken feed, the geese eat cracked corn, the pigs eat their slop, etc. But. As interruptions clearly show time and time again. The cow LOVES cookies.

It's predictable. It's repetitive. It's got a great refrain. It's silly. It's wonderful fun.

And I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the illustrations. Seriously!!! They are oh-so-perfect!!!

The Cow Loves Cookies is a book I would want to read again and again and again.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shark Vs. Train

Shark Vs. Train. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2010. April 2010. Little, Brown. 40 pages.

Two boys are playing together. One has a toy shark. One has a toy train. Both boys are competitive. Both boys are spirited and imaginative. In scenario after scenario after scenario, the two battle it out for supremacy. Trains do better at giving rides at carnivals. But do horribly at diving off the high dive. I liked that it (eventually) showed the two had some things in common. There were situations where neither did better, neither won. Both made too much noise at the library. Both failed at performing in a piano recital. Shark Vs. Train is unique and very silly.

It's not really my type of book. (I'm not the target audience for the book.) But I can appreciate the humor. I can see why kids would like this one. Why it would be appealing...

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Lincoln Tells A Joke

Lincoln Tells A Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (And the Country). Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer. Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. 2010. April 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.
Poor Abraham Lincoln.
His life was hardly fun at all.
His childhood was harsh.
He looked homely and he knew it.
Sadness disturbed him off and on.
His family had ups and downs.
When he ran for public office, he often lost.
As our sixteenth president, he was unpopular.
And when his country went to war,
it nearly split in tow.
But Lincoln had his own way of dealing with life.
Not many people remember it today.
It was all about laughing.
I really enjoyed this picture book biography of Abraham Lincoln. It was interesting to read his life story through a single perspective. How Lincoln used laughter as medicine, as food for the soul.

Not that laughter is the only perspective. Krull also emphasizes Lincoln's love for words. How he loved to read and write. How important words were for him. How persuasive words can be. How fundamental they can be in communication. But time and time again, as Krull illustrates with quotes, humor comes into play here as well.

For example Lincoln when speaking of another lawyer: "That man can pack the most words into the least ideas of any man I know".

And "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."

And I loved Lincoln's office sign.
He labeled a teetering pile in his office with a sign: When you can't find it anywhere else, look in this.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I would have loved to know exactly where each quote came from. But Krull does give a minimal bibliography for further reading.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade. By James Preller. Illustrated by Greg Ruth. Feiwel and Friends. 48 pages.
Shiver me timbers, what a slobberin' moist mornin'!
Me great scurvy dog slurped me kisser
when I was tryin' t' get me winks!
While I was wipin' the slime from me gob,
I remembered 'twas the first day of school.
I leaped out of bed...
shined me snappers,
and got dressed double quick.
What a strange little book! The good news? It is exactly what it looks like. So if you love pirates, if you know someone who loves pirates, then this is the picture book for you. Pirates fill each and every page of this one. Of course, the pirates are in one little boy's imagination. And this redheaded boy sure does love pirates!

The narrative is strong in A Pirate's Guide to First Grade.
Me mother was soggy with fare-thee-wells,
fussing over this, that, and the other thing.
"Fair winds!" I exclaimed and headed for me ship.
And a great, grand jolly boat it was!
The 'jolly' boat in question? The yellow school bus.

There is a glossary in the back of the book for those interested in "pirate homework."

I didn't love this one. I thought it very strange. But. It might work better for other readers.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming. 2010. August 2010. Henry Holt. 32 pages.

Tiny baby panda,
sleepy, oh so sleepy.

Tiny baby ostrich,
sleepy, oh so sleepy.

Tiny baby lion,
sleepy, oh so sleepy.

Where is my sleepy baby?

In Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy, young readers meet many baby animals who are sleepy before finally meeting the young (human) baby in the closing pages.

I loved this one. I just LOVED it. I love the gentleness of it, the sweetness. The rhythm. The repetition. It's predictable, yes, and simple. But that is just what it should be.

A good bedtime book should make you sleepy, should make you yawn. (Like my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book.) This one worked for me--both the illustrations and the writing.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 17, 2010

Switching On the Moon

Switching on the Moon. A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems. Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2010. September 2010. Candlewick Press. 96 pages.

This is a beautifully illustrated collection of poems. The poems are grouped thematically into three categories: going to bed, sweet dreams, in the night. It features a wide selection of poets--both past and present including Lee Bennett Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Eleanor Farjeon, Alice Schertle, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Sylvia Plath, Tony Mitton, Jane Yolen, and Douglas Florian. To name just a few. Some of the poems are new to this collection, I believe. (At least, they're 2010 poems.) One of my favorites is Bath by JoEllen Bogart.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say good night.

-- Anonymous (37)

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love That Kitty

Love That Kitty: The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to Be A Cat. Jeff Jarka. 2010. Henry Holt. 32 pages.

Peter was an ordinary boy, almost.
Then, one day, Peter decided to become a cat.
Not everyone thought this was a good idea.
But Peter was happy.

I loved Love That Puppy. I just loved it. It was cute. It was playful. It was fun. The text, the illustrations, they just told a great story. I was so happy to see that there was a companion book being published this year, Love That Kitty! This time Peter has decided to be a cat. He's taken up scratching furniture, playing with yarn, purring, and being invisible (when he's not seeking attention). His parents are as patient as they can that situation. But. They are relieved when Peter tires of his new game. Until....

Well, Peter will be Peter. He's a great character. And I like him. I hope you do too!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can I Play Too?

Can and I Play Too? Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 57 pages.

Piggie! Let's play catch!
Yes! I love playing catch with friends!
I will throw.
I will catch.
Excuse me! Can I play too?
Piggie and Gerald are getting ready to play catch when they're interrupted by a snake who wants to play catch too. Can these two friends find a way to make that work? You know, since snakes do not have arms to catch or throw with?!

This one is funny. I love it when these two best friends try to solve problems. Some of their solutions are quite different. I won't say it's the best of the series. (I have my own favorites.) But I did like it.

I would definitely recommend this series! These books are great fun.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Elephants Cannot Dance

Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant & Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2009. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Let's Dance!
I can teach you! I am teaching all my friends.
I would love to learn how to dance.
Piggie would love, love, love to teach her best friend Gerald how to dance. She is teaching all her friends, you know, and Gerald is her best, best friend. Gerald knows this won't be easy. For he knows that elephants cannot dance. But for Piggie, his best friend, he's willing to try. And try. And try. And try. Will Piggie's perseverance pay off? Will Gerald learn to dance? Or will Piggie have to accept the truth that elephants cannot dance?

While Elephants Cannot Dance is not the funniest in the series, I did enjoy it!

I love, love, love this series!!!

For fun, here's a couple of YouTube videos featuring Mo Willems:

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Sit-In

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. 2010. February 2010. Little, Brown. 40 pages.

"We hate with love."
These were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words that got them started.
Four hungry friends. Eager to eat.
Each took a seat at the Woolworth's lunch counter
in Greensboro, North Carolina.
David, Joseph, Franklin, and Ezell sat quiet and still.
With hearts full of hope.
With Dr. King's words strong and close.
They were college students with a plan.
It was February 1, 1960.
This picture book very simply, very eloquently presents the story of one aspect of the Civil Rights Movement. The focus is on the peaceful protests, the sit-ins. It tells how four college students inspired others--many others--to join in the nonviolent fight for equal rights, for integration.

I thought the writing was great. I enjoyed the style very much.
This was the law's recipe for segregation.
Its instructions were easy to follow:
Do not combine white people with black people.
Segregation was a bitter mix.
Now, it was the friends' turn to ignore and refuse.
They ignored the law, and refused to leave until they were served.
Those kids had a recipe too.
A new brew called integration.
It was just as simple:
Combine black with white
to make sweet justice.
For them, integration was better than any chef's special.
Integration was finer than homemade cake.
For readers looking for more information, more background, the book features a Civil Rights Timeline and a bibliography.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 11, 2010

City Dog, Country Frog

City Dog, Country Frog. Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.

City Dog didn't stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could.

Change is a part of life. Seasons come and go. Life goes on and on and on. You enjoy living life in the moment. You treasure good times, good memories. Such is the message of Mo Willems' more contemplative picture book, City Dog, Country Frog. Within the book, City Dog makes two friends. Both in springtime. The first spring he meets a Country Frog. The second spring he meets a Country Chipmunk.

Readers meet City Dog (in the country) on five occasions: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring Again. In the first three, City Dog is happy with his friend Country Frog. In spring, they play froggy games. In summer, they play doggy games. And in fall, they sit back, relax, and remember. In winter, City Dog is surprised by the absence of his friend. The moment of loss, of sadness, isn't over done. It's quiet. It's profound. But spring comes again, and with it comes a new opportunity for friendship, for life, for reconnecting.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Animal House

Animal House. Candace Ryan. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. 2010. July 2010. Walker Books. 40 pages.

My teacher says I belong in a zoo, and she isn't far from the truth. I live in an animal house. Well, actually it's a gorvilla.

If you love crazy-strange picture books, then Animal House might be a good fit for you. It's a bit too strange, too wacky, for me. (Though I did always love There's A Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss. So you'd think I'd appreciate the imaginative spirit of this one.)

In Animal House, Mrs. Nuddles pays a home visit to one of her students. She doesn't believe some of his strange stories, his excuses. So she comes to his house, to see for herself. It's told through his point of view.
I told Mrs. Nuddles that she couldn't miss my house. It has the biggest condoor in the whole neighborhood. I asked him to be on his best behavior--I really want to go on that field trip tomorrow. I think I see Mrs. Nuddles through the windodo now.
"Hi, Mrs. Nuddles. Be careful stepping onto the floormingos. They don't like dirt getting stuck between their feathers."
As the two make their way to his kangaroom, things get a bit dangerous, a bit tricky. Will Mrs. Nuddles survive this visit?

Animal House is so extreme, so strange. Maybe it's appealing--engaging--to younger readers?! Maybe the word plays are sillier to the target audience?! I'm not sure. It didn't quite work for me. But maybe you'll like it more than I did. Have you read this one? What did you think?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Dirtball Pete

Dirtball Pete. Eileen Brennan. 2010. August 2010. Random House. 32 pages.

Dirtball Pete looked like something the cat dragged in.
It was a fact.
His mom said so, and his aunt Marion agreed.
Dirtball Pete also stank to high heaven.
This was another fact.
His sister, Amanda, said so, and her friend Janine totally agreed.

It's a big day for Dirtball Pete. He is Pennsylvania in the school's production "The Fifty States and Why They're Great." While his mom is busy trying to get him clean, trying to keep him clean, Pete is focused on his speech. While he may not be looking his absolute best when the big moment arrives, he--unlike his classmates--delivers his lines perfectly. So Dirtball Pete gets his big moment to shine--even if he is a little dirty!

I enjoyed this one very much! I loved, loved, loved the illustrations! I loved seeing the progression of Pete's appearance--from his radiant unveiling to his more familiar self. It's a very cute, very sweet book!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Silly Book With CD

The Silly Book with CD. Stoo Hample. 2010/2004/1961. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.

Candlewick Press has reprinted Stoo Hample's The Silly Book; it was originally published along with the Silly Record (LP) in 1961. This latest edition--there was another reprint in 2004--includes the CD containing twenty-three minutes of silly songs and poems. How silly is silly? Very! It's silly nonsense through and through.

I had to listen to the CD a few times before I started to enjoy it. But. Once I gave it some of my time and attention, I must admit that *some* of the silliness worked for me. (Not that I'd want to listen to it continuously for weeks or anything.)

Here's one of my favorites:

Silly Recipe

Cook three pieces of
spaghetti in a pan of
water for two years.

Add one teaspoonful
of chocolate syrup
and mix well.

Spread on bread
and freeze.

Feed to teddy bear.

I also enjoyed "Silly Backwards Talk" and "Silly Story."

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Maisy Goes to Bed

Maisy Goes to Bed. A Maisy Lift-the-Flap Classic. Lucy Cousins. 2010. September 2010. Candlewick Press. 16 pages.

It's time for Maisy to go to bed.
Maisy has a bedtime drink.
Maisy goes to the potty then washes her hands.
I haven't always been a big Maisy fan. But I really, really liked this one. (Much like I really, really liked Maisy's Book of Things That Go.) I think this may be my favorite Maisy yet. I think it is because of the attention to detail. There are so many small details that make this one work. So many interactive features that make this one fun. Like the fact that you can make Maisy drink a glass of juice. Like the fact that you can make her brush her teeth. Like the fact that you can read Maisy's bedtime book. Little things really like unrolling the toilet paper, putting the plug in the bathroom sink, turning on the water faucets, etc.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pete's Potty and Lily's Potty

Pete's Potty. Begin Smart Books. May 2010. 14 pages.
Lily's Potty. Begin Smart Books. May 2010. 14 pages

Pete and Lily star in two nearly identical board books about toddlers learning to use the potty.

Where is Pete's potty?
It's for poo and pee.
Is it under the bed?
Let's look and see.

Where is Lily's potty?
It's for poo and pee.
Is it under the bed?
Let's look and see.
Each child goes in search of his/her potty. Looking just about everywhere--the bedroom, the kitchen, the garden, etc. Both do find what they're looking for. Can you guess where? The bathroom! Yes, Lily and Pete find their potties, have success, and remember to wash up afterwards.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Potty. Leslie Patricelli. 2010. September 2010. Candlewick Press. 28 pages.

I have to go potty!
I could go in my diaper.
Should I go in my diaper?
I don't want to!

Leslie Patricelli's oh-so-adorable baby is ready to be potty-trained! What do you do when you really have to go? Will this baby have success on the potty? Is it time for the diapers to go, go, go?

Read and see in Leslie Patricelli's newest board book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 6, 2010


Tubby. Leslie Patricelli. 2010. September 2010. Candlewick Press. 28 pages.

Tubby time!
I'm naked!
In I go.

I love Leslie Patricelli. I do. I just love, love, love her series of board books (and picture books)! Tubby is one of her newest board books. The baby may be familiar to you if you're familiar with some of her earlier books. (I recently reviewed her Baby Book Tower which featured four books starring this oh-so-adorable baby!)

While this baby doesn't love everything about taking a bath--not fond of rinsing the shampoo out--the baby finds much to love, to enjoy at 'tubby time.'

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The 39 Clues: The Viper's Nest

The Viper's Nest. (The 39 Clues #7). Peter Lerangis. 2010. Scholastic. 190 pages.

Amy Cahill didn't believe in omens. But black snow was falling, the earth was rumbling beneath her feet, her brother was meowing, and her uncle Alistair was prancing on the beach in pink pajamas. She had to admit, the signs were not promising.

Viper's Nest is probably my least favorite of the seven 39 Clues books which I've read. (The first six in the series are: The Maze of Bones, One False Note, The Sword Thief, Beyond the Grave, The Black Circle, and In Too Deep.) The series stars the brother-sister team of Dan and Amy Cahill. (Amy being the older, and Dan being the one with the incredible photographic memory.) Both children are part of the world-wide search for the thirty-nine clues. They're doing well, so far. They've been able to survive quite a few dangerous challenges. They've outwitted a few of their opponents. They've been surprised by the actions of some of the members of their own 'family' both past and present.

This adventure, for the most part, takes place in South Africa.

If you like action, adventure, and mystery these books may satisfy. I'm hoping to enjoy the rest of the series more than this one!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 3, 2010

In the Wild

In the Wild. David Elliott. Illustrated by Holly Meade. 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.

I really enjoyed David Elliott's On the Farm. Once again, Elliott poems are paired with Holly Meade's beautiful woodcut and watercolor illustrations.

The animals featured in this poetry book include: the lion, the elephant, the giraffe, the zebra, the rhinoceros, the sloth, the jaguar, the panda, the tiger, the orangutan, the kangaroo, the buffalo, the wolf, and the polar bear. While I didn't love all the poems equally--there were a few I didn't like at all--for the most part I just loved this one. My favorite poems are the ones about the elephant and the tiger. Why? Because both made me think!

Big, yet moves
with grace.
Powerful, yet delicate
as lace.

As to color, plain--
an ordinary gray.
But once we start to look,
we cannot look away.

When peaceful, silent;
When angry, loud.

Who would have guessed
the Elephant
is so much like a cloud?
I would definitely recommend both On the Farm and In the Wild.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Pig-a-Boo! A Farmyard Peekaboo Book. Dorothea DePrisco. Illustrated by Treesha Runnells. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 14 pages.

I went to the farm, and what did I see?
A big chubby pig looking at me!

I went to the barnyard, and what did I see?
A happy horse looking at me!
I thought Pig-a-Boo was very cute and very fun! It has touch-and-feel elements and a flap on each spread. It's predictable and repetitive--as it should be for this age! It's a fun story that I found appealing. Perhaps a book you wouldn't mind reading aloud a dozen times in a row!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Have You Ever Tickled A Tiger

Have You Ever Tickled A Tiger? Betsy E. Snyder. 2009. Random House. 14 pages.

Have you ever poked a penguin?
Daddy's tum is soft and stout--
A cozy spot for hiding out!

Have you ever nudged a hedgehog?
She's cute and sharp and kind of prickly.
Touch her--is your finger tickly?
I enjoyed this touch-and-feel board book by Betsy Snyder. It includes several animals with touch-and-feel elements: a walrus, an octopus, a tiger, a hedgehog, an armadillo, a penguin, an ostrich. I especially enjoyed the ostrich, the hedgehog, and the walrus. Those textures aren't as common in touch-and-feel books--like the soft fur of so many others.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers