Monday, October 22, 2018

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When darkness comes, it will be the first night of Hanukkah, 1912.

Premise/plot: This new picture book stars Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind family. It is set in New York City in 1912 during Hanukkah. It is told from the perspective of the youngest sister, Gertie.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It has been years since I read the All-of-a-Kind family series. I remember reading them as a kid. And I have definitely reread the first book since I've started blogging. Reading this picture book makes me want to reread them all. I loved "meeting" the family again. I loved the historical setting. I loved the focus on family and faith.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 19, 2018

Little Brown

Little Brown. Marla Frazee. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Little Brown was cranky. Probably because no one ever played with him. Or maybe no one ever played with him because he was cranky. At this point, it was hard to know.

Premise/plot: Little Brown is the star of this picture book. When the book opens he is cranky and lonely. When the book closes he is cranky and lonely. In between Little Brown and the other dogs--whose names we learn on the end pages--wonder about life's complexities.

Why doesn't Little Brown have friends? Does his crankiness keep the other dogs from liking him, playing with him, being his friends? Or is it his loneliness--his lack of friends and playmates--making him cranky? If the other dogs were his friends--if they took the first step--would he stop being cranky? What if he took the first step--would they reject him? Wouldn't that make him even crankier to be rejected?

Here is a line that got to me, "But Little Brown did nothing and did it alone."

My thoughts: The first time I read this book I was frustrated. I didn't want to think about the complexities of friendship--of life--and the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). I wanted a lesson tied up with a bow. I wanted Little Brown to return what he'd stolen. I wanted Little Brown to have been forgiven by the other dogs. I wanted Little Brown to have been accepted by the other dogs. I wanted him to make a friend. Or else I wanted another dog to step forward and make the first step of friendship. In short I wanted a happy ending--to be assured that even cranky, lonely people dogs are worthy of love and friendship. But that is not this story.

The second time I read this one I liked it better. I identified with it more. Who hasn't been Little Brown at some point? (Is Little Brown the dog version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day?!) Who hasn't experienced cranky days? Who hasn't experienced loneliness? The truth is that it is almost always scary to take that first step. I don't know that kindness is ever super-super easy. But. It is true that it easier to be a kind to someone who is "nice" and "friendly" and "cheerful." It is more difficult to be kind to someone who is "cranky" or "mean" or "sad" or "angry" or "lonely" or "bitter." The people who need our kindness the most can be the most difficult to reach out to.


"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
"Sir?"
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, 30)
If there is a lesson in Little Brown, perhaps it's an interactive lesson in perception and empathy. When Little Brown is cranky what other emotions could he be feeling?

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Kindergarrrten Bus

Kindergarrrten Bus. Mike Ornstein. Illustrated by Kevin M. Barry. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Ahoy, boy! What? It be ye first day of kindergarrrten? Well, don't worry, laddie--it be my first day as a bus driverrr! Climb aboard!

Premise/plot: What if your bus driver was a pirate? Such is the case in this humorous picture book about important firsts. It is his first day on the job--will he run the bus like it is a ship? It is the boy's first day of kindergarrrten--assuming that the bus makes it to the school. The bus driver may just inspire some courage to the boys and girls, and the boys and girls may just inspire some courage to the bus driver. For he loses his courage when his faithful parrot, Polly, flies out the window.

My thoughts: This was a fun read. I think it would make a great read aloud--especially if you can do voices.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Curious Cares of Bears

The Curious Cares of Bears. Douglas Florian. Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence;
The cares of bears
are curious indeed,
as you will discover,
if you care to read.
Premise/plot: The Curious Cares of Bears is a whimsical poem of a book. These curious bears are not your average bears. For example, in summer these bears play jump rope and hide-and-seek, go mountain biking, etc. In autumn, they build campfires and sing songs.

My thoughts: This one is written in rhyme. Some spreads worked better for me--as far as rhythm goes--than others. But overall, I liked the book. It begins and ends in spring. The book 'chronicles' what bears do in all four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

A Parade of Elephants

A Parade of Elephants. Kevin Henkes. 2018. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Look! Elephants! One, two, three, four, five. Five elephants. Marching. A parade of elephants! Big and round and round they are. Big and round and round they go.

Premise/plots: Does your little one love elephants? Kevin Henkes' A Parade of Elephants is a charmer. (At least this life-long elephant-lover found it to be so!) This picture book invites readers to spend the day with elephants. The book ends with a surprise: the elephants TRUMPET the stars up into the night sky.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I love, love, love elephants. This isn't a realistic elephant story. It's a fantastical one. The elephants are colorful: blue, yellow, purple, green, and pink. The text is more lyrical than factual. I love the ending.
And when the day is done, they are done, too.
They yawn and stretch. They stretch and yawn.
But before they sleep they lift their trunks...
and they trumpet--scattering stars across the sky.
Good night.
The illustrations are pastel and have a whimsical feel about them.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bow Wow Meow Meow

Bow Wow Meow Meow: It's Rhyming Cats and Dogs. Douglas Florian. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
"Dog Log"
Rolled out of bed.
Scratched by mhead.
Brought the mail.
Wagged my tail.
Fetched a stick.
Learned a trick.
...
Premise/plot: Bow Wow Meow Meow is an animal-themed poetry collection by Douglas Florian. There are twenty-one poems in all. Eleven poems feature dogs. (One of the dog poems is about a wolf.) Ten poems feature cats. (Only four poems are about house cats. The other six are about BIG cats: lions, cheetahs, leopards, panthers, etc.)

One of my favorite poems is "The Siamese"
I am a cat.
A cat I am.
My ancestors
Were from Siam.
My ears are brown.
My eyes are blue.
And I'm the boss, you know,
Not you!
My thoughts: I really, really loved this one. I liked Zoo's Who, which I reviewed earlier today, but I LOVED this one even more. I had favorite dog poems and favorite cat poems. Overall, I think most readers will find at least one or two poems to absolutely love.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Zoo's Who

Zoo's Who. Douglas Florian. 2005. HMH. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
The Lizards
Lizards laze
And lizards bask.
What's their favorite food?
Don't ask!
 Premise/plot: Zoo's Who is an animal-themed poetry collection by Douglas Florian. There are twenty-one poems in all. Each poem is accompanied by an illustration--a painting--also by Florian. The poems are short, quite a few include word play. For example, "The Eagle."
I'm not a seagull.
I'm royal.
I'm regal.
All birds are not
Created eagle.
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I must admit that "The Eagle" is probably my favorite from the whole book. But there were plenty of other poems that I enjoyed as well. (I also really, really loved his poem about pigs.)  I would recommend this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers