Monday, October 14, 2019

Hi, Jack!

Hi, Jack! Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. 2019. 80 pages. [Source: Library

First sentence: This is Jack. Hi, Jack! Look, Jack waves hi back!

Premise/plot: Jack is a very naughty rabbit who stars in Mac Barnett’s newest children’s book. Jack isn’t the only character, mind you. There’s also an old lady (the lady) and Rex the dog. It’s told in simple, easy-to-read words and short sentences. It is entertaining.

My thoughts: Mischievous characters can be quite fun to read about. I certainly wouldn’t want too many Jacks in real life! Early readers can often be a little lacking in story. This story is packed with equal parts naughtiness and reprimands. It also includes a bonus section where readers can learn how to draw the characters.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bear's Book

Bear's Book. Claire Freedman. 2019. 34 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there was a bear whose favorite thing to do was read. But Bear had a problem: he had read his book of stories so many times that it was falling to pieces...and one day a gust of wind blew all the pages away!

Premise/plot: After his favorite book is gone, Bear decides to write a new book. But writing does not come as naturally as reading!!! In fact, Bear finds himself stumped. But with more than a little help from his friends...he may just find inspiration and an opportunity to exercise his imagination.

My thoughts: At first I thought that Bear and I were peas in a pod. Then upon rereading I realized that Bear never broke down and cried over losing his favorite book. I would definitely have cried ugly tears. I would have found consolation somewhere—someway. But tears would have come first. Maybe Bear has been influenced by Pete the Cat. I love the character of Bear. I do. I think the book is super sweet. I love the themes of friendship and storytelling.

Illustrations: 5/5
Total: 10/10
© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 7, 2019

Most Marshmallows

Most Marshmallows. Rowboat Watkins. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Most marshmallows don’t grow on trees or come from storks or even Mars.

Premise/plot: Just because MOST marshmallows don’t...doesn’t mean that a marshmallow can’t. The book explores the notion of conformity and nonconformity.

My thoughts: The book is quite imaginative for being about conformity. The illustrations are silly in an oddly wonderful way. This book is definitely whimsical.

Text: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Total: 7/10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

How To Read A Book

How To Read A Book. Kwame Alexander. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: First, find a tree—a black Tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself. (It’s okay if you prefer a stoop, like Langston Hughes.)

Premise/plot: This picture book is actually an illustrated poem celebrating reading. The book is rich in imagery. The illustrations complement the sentiment quite well. Melissa Sweet used an old copy of Bambi in her collages. Will children notice and appreciate the amount of work put into the details?! Perhaps. But many adults will. Perhaps those on award committees especially?!?!

My thoughts: I love to read. I absolutely love, love, love to read. I don’t necessarily love poetry. Or love all poetry to be more precise. But this is a lovely book. I love the text more than the illustrations. But the illustrations do scream out Caldecott winner or honor. (I rarely “like” award winners. If I gush over the illustrations then that might be a good indication that it’s unlikely to get a fancy sticker.)

Text: 5/5
Illustrations: 3/5

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 23, 2019

Nixie Ness: Cooking Star

Nixie Ness: Cooking Star. (After School Superstars) Claudia Mills. 2019. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: “Come back, puppy noses!” Nixie Ness scolded.

Premise/plot: Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny are best, best, best friends. But their friendship is tested when Nixie joins an after-school program—a cooking class or camp—and Grace does not. The two are used to spending each afternoon together. Now Grace goes to Elyse’s house after school. Elyse has a new kitten. Elyse and Grace become inseparable within days. Nixie is frustrated, sad, lonely, angry, and jealous. Nixie is spending time with others too, but, reluctantly. Her teammates are not best friend material. (Though Vera does seem fun!) Can Nixie come up with a (successful) plan to get Grace back?!?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. Nixie is a character that is easy to relate to. Friendship among young girls—these are third graders—is such a tricky, tricksy thing to navigate. Emotions run high. I enjoyed the theme of friendship and forgiveness. I also enjoyed the cooking aspect of it. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 20, 2019

Sam the Firefly

Sam the Firefly. P.D. Eastman. 1958. 62 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The moon was up when Sam came out.

Premise/plot: Sam is a lonely owl looking for a friend. He finds a friend in Gus the firefly. Sam is impressed by Gus’ trick of writing words in the air. But Gus gets carried away. He loses sight of right and wrong and good and bad. Sam tries to teach Gus to be responsible. Gus does NOT want to listen. But all actions have consequences. Gus learns this the hard way. Will Sam and Gus be reunited?!

My thoughts: I grew up reading Are You My Mother and Go, Dog, Go! But this was my first time reading Sam and the Firefly. This would have been one of the first beginning readers to be published—it was published in 1958. The story it tells is substantive. This isn’t a simple rhyming story about a pig in a wig or a frog on a log. It definitely seems more complex than Go, Dog, Go! I liked it overall. Gus was VERY naughty.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 13, 2019

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao. Kat Zhang. Illustrated by Charlene Chua. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Amy can do a lot of things. She can brush her teeth. She can tie her shoe. She can even do both at once...sort of.

Premise/plot: Will Amy ever learn how to make bao like her mom, dad, and grandma?! She tries. She tries hard. She tries often. She listens. She imitates. This book chronicles her attempts to make the perfect bao—one that doesn’t fall apart. It very much celebrates family, family life, traditions, food and feasts.

My thoughts: This picture book was lovely and charming. I enjoyed meeting Amy and her family. I loved her determination. I loved her spirit. She seems like a kindred spirit.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers