Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Catawampus Cat

The Catawampus Cat. Jason Carter Eaton. Illustrated by Gus Gordon. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The catawampus cat arrived early on a Tuesday morning...slightly askew. At first no one noticed. The town was a busy town, and the people were busy people.

Premise/plot: A catawampus cat comes to town one day, and, the town gains a new perspective on life. (The definition of catawampus: 1) diagonal or at an angle, 2) askew, awry.) For example, when the barber sees the cat holding its head catawampus (askew), he tilts his own head--mid-clip of the scissors. His customer, a lady, loves the new bangs. (I don't know why! I think she looks awful!) My favorite example would have to be the librarian.
When the town librarian, Miss Reade, saw the catawumpus cat, she pulled the wrong book off the shelf. And then quit her job and set out for an adventure!
The book she 'accidentally' pulled off the shelf is titled How To Build A Boat. The next page shows her rowing a boat in a storm happy as can be.

My thoughts: This one is definitely unique in my opinion. I've read odder books certainly, but I've not always enjoyed them. Odd does not make a book great automatically. I sought my mom's opinion on this one; it is what I do when a book leaves me speechless. Her verdict: it would be better if they left about four pages out. Neither of us understood why "they rebuilt all the houses so they were leaning, and made all the cars off-kilter." Both of us did like the ending.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 22, 2017

I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat Back. Jon Klassen. 2011. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: My hat is gone. I want it back. Have you seen my hat? No. I haven't seen your hat. OK. Thank you anyway. Have you seen my hat? No. I have not seen any hats around here. OK. Thank you anyway.

Premise/plot: Bear has lost his hat. Did he lose it? Was it stolen? Will he get it back? Will there be a happy hat reunion?

My thoughts: In this quirky but delightful picture book, children are introduced to a bear who has lost his red, pointy hat. The bear is going from animal to animal asking everyone if they've seen his hat. It takes him a little while to find the culprit--perhaps readers will spot the culprit first!!!--but his hat will be found. Was justice served?! You be the judge.

Probably my favorite scene in this one is when Bear 'interrogates' the rabbit...and walks away. The text and illustrations show that the rabbit is obviously lying. But Bear isn't exactly observant.

Bear: Have you seen my hat?
Rabbit: No. Why are you asking me.
I haven't seen it.
I haven't seen any hats anywhere.
I would not steal a hat.
Don't ask me any more questions.
Bear: OK. Thank you anyway.

I love, love, love the ending.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Nighty-Night, Cooper

Nighty-Night, Cooper. Laura Numeroff. 2013. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cooper climbed out of his mama's warm pouch. Dressed in his jammies, he lay on the couch. His mama sat near him. "I can't sleep," he said. "Please, can you sing, then I'll go to my bed?"

Premise/plot: Cooper can't sleep. His mama finds a way to tell him stories and sing to him at the same time. The tunes she sings: "Rock-a-bye Baby," "The Farmer in the Dell," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Jingle Bells," and "Lullabye and Good Night."

My thoughts: My guess is that all the singing would make this a fun read aloud to share with little ones. I liked this one because I like to make up my own words to familiar songs. I always have. I'm guessing I always will. That's just how my family works. I like it because it celebrates singing in addition to celebrating the bond between parent and child.

My lingering question: Why kangaroos? If Cooper gets to crawl back into his mama's pouch to go to sleep, why would bedtime ever be a struggle? True, bedtime struggles don't always, always, always have to be about separation anxiety--mom or dad leaving the room, being all alone in your bed all alone, sleepy but still awake. True, bedtime struggles could come from "I'm not tired. I'm not ready for bed. I want to play." But the closeness and safety of Mama--being IN the pouch--I'm not seeing why Cooper would ever have stress. In fact, he seems to have the good life.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Board book: This Little Trailblazer

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer. Joan Holub. Illustrated by Daniel Roode. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Paving the way to a future that's bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might. Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

Premise/plot: This board book introduces little ones to trailblazing women from all walks of life and corners of the world. Readers meet Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale, Coco Chanel, Rosa Parks, Maria Tallchief, Wilma Rudolph, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruby Bridges, Maya Lin, and Malala Yousafzai.
Each woman is introduced in rhyme. The next page contains a few more facts.
Coco Chanel
This little trailblazer
became a millionaire
by designing simpler clothes
for women to wear.
Coco Chanel disliked the tight dresses of the 1900s. She created comfortable styles that women still love today.
Rosa Parks
This little trailblazer
caused a big fuss
by not giving up
her seat on the bus.
Rosa Parks's bravery helped change an unfair rule that African Americans could not sit by Caucasians on the bus.
My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I loved the rhymes. I liked the additional facts. I wasn't absolutely wowed by the illustrations. (In fact, I disliked some of the illustrations. The illustration of Coco Chanel bothered me. Her lipstick is so dark that it looks like a black mustache. She looks like Hercules Poirot. I do not think that was the illustrator's intent at all.) But I loved the premise of this one. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper

Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Laura Zarrin. 2017. Bloomsbury. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Let's play a game," said Wallace. He flew high above the trees. "Let's play I Spy," said Grace. She flew next to him.

Premise/plot: Wallace and Grace are detective owls. In this early chapter book, they except two cases. Monty wants to hire Wallace and Grace to prove that Sal stole his cupcake. Sal wants to hire Wallace and Grace to prove that he did NOT take Monty's cupcake. Will Wallace and Grace discover WHO stole the cupcake? Is Sal innocent? Will readers solve the mystery before Wallace and Grace?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this second book in the series. Like the first book it has four chapters. Wallace and Grace showcase their detective skills a bit better in this one, in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this series to young readers. I think the illustrations are lovely, and the plot is fun.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wallace and Grace Take The Case

Wallace and Grace Take the Case. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Laura Zarrin. 2017. Bloomsbury. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "The sun is going down!" called Grace. "It's time to get up!"

Premise/plot: Wallace and Grace are detective owls; they are the owls behind the Night Owl Detective Agency. In this first book in the series, readers meet Wallace and Grace. Edgar, a rabbit, hires these two because he's super-worried there's a GHOST IN THE GARDEN. Is there a ghost in the garden? If it's not a ghost, what is it? Will Wallace and Grace see the ghost and discover the ghost's identity?

My thoughts: This is an early chapter book. There are four chapters. The text size is large, and it has a good amount of illustration. I think Grace is an adorable owl. I'm glad that there are new mystery series being written for young readers. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Cats. Larry Dane Brimner. Illustrated by Tom Payne. 2001. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cats! Come in, cats. Let's play, cats. Please, cats! Stay on the floor.

Premise/plot: If you have a beginning reader who loves cats, this one is an absolute must. It has just thirty-three different words, most of them quite simple to read. If you tend to think that beginning readers must by necessity lack story, again this is a must. The story is about a little girl and her crazy cats.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. There are not a lot of words per page, but it's not light on story. It's a fun, engaging, SILLY story starring LOTS of CATS.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers