Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Case of the Baffled Bear

The Case of the Baffled Bear. (The High Rise Private Eyes #7) Cynthia Rylant. G. Brian Karas. 2004. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Every Tuesday night Bunny and Jack liked to play Slap Jack. They played for pretzels. It was Jack's idea to play for pretzels. It was Bunny's idea to play Slap Jack. She thought the name was funny. Jack did not.

Premise/plot: Bernard is a bear who delivers messages speedy-quick on his bike. Unfortunately--or fortunately depending on your perspective--his whistle is missing. He's come to Jack and Bunny for help. Can they find his whistle so he can go back to delivering messages?

My thoughts: Jack and Bunny have a new case.  I liked this one. I like the series in general. If you're looking for an early chapter book mystery series, the High Rise Private Eyes series would be a good choice. Cynthia Rylant is an excellent writer!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Case of the Fidgety Fox

The Case of the Fidgety Fox ( The High Rise Private Eyes #6). Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2003. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On Saturday Bunny did her yoga. Bunny did yoga every Saturday. When she was finished, she called Jack. "You're missing all the cartoons," Jack said. "Yes, but I am very, very calm," said Bunny. "Mighty Monkey is trapped," said Jack. "I'm too calm to care," said Bunny. "He's in a room full of gardenias," said Jack," And he's allergic." "Really?" said Bunny. "That's not good." "I know," said Jack. He's sneezing to high heaven." "Goodness," said Bunny.

Premise/plot: Bunny and Jack are as different as can be. But they have a few things in common. They love chips--the ruffly kind--and dip. They love detecting. In this one, Bunny and Jack eat a lot of chips in an effort to get calm...and stay calm. IT is when they are out "exercising" off those chips that they discover a new case.

Someone has stolen the bus driver's lucky fuzzy dice? He won't drive without those dice. And there are a lot of angry people who depend on the bus to get where they are going. Can Bunny and Jack solve the case and discover the thief?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I especially enjoyed the illustrations. Readers see Bunny when she's agitated and stressed out and when she's super-calm. The story is silly. Would someone really, truly get that worked up over the "dangers" facing cartoon characters? Especially if this is all word-of-mouth. But then I think about it in this way. Haven't I got upset over the "dangers" facing characters in books?! So maybe it's not ridiculously silly. Are chips the answer to anyone's stress? They shouldn't be. Though realistically, I would say many people DO turn to food as a coping mechanism.

I enjoy spending time with Bunny and Jack.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

John Philip Duck

John Philip Duck. Patricia Polacco. 2004. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Edward was a sweet boy who lived with his family on a small farm just outside Memphis in the foothills of Tennessee. Times were hard. there was a depression on and money was hard to come by. Even though Edward was just a lad, he and his father worked at the same hotel in Memphis. During the work week they stayed at the hotel, but on the weekends they both went home.

Premise/plot: Edward finds an abandoned little duckling; he decides to raise it as his very own. He takes the duck to work with him--at first with the intent to keep him completely out of sight. He teaches the duck tricks--trains him. The boss isn't happy to discover the duck in his hotel, but, he's happy enough when he sees the duck perform. Can Edward train other ducks too?! He's given a month. Will it be enough time?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one very much. Parents should definitely introduce their children to the music of John Philip Sousa before or after reading this one. (Sousa in Stereo). Edward LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Sousa's marches, and he trains his ducks to "march" to Sousa.

The goal becomes to train the ducks to march through the lobby and into the lobby's fountain, and to stay in the fountain and swim all day. At the end of the day, they will march out again. That is if all goes according to plan.

This one is loosely based on a true story. There are ducks at the Peabody hotel that were/are trained to do just that. Edward and his father are fictional representatives of that first duckmaster.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, April 16, 2018

Knit Your Bit

Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story. Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia. 2013. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Pop left to be a soldier, I wanted to go with him. "I'm brave," I told Pop. "I know, Mikey," he said, patting my shoulder. "And you'll need to be, 'cause it takes just as much courage to stay behind."

Premise/plot: Mikey says he wants to do something BIG to help the war effort. While his sister, Ellie, learns to knit so she can knit her bit, Mikey resists such a simple, little thing. Besides knitting is for girls. BUT when a knitting bee--to be held at Central Park--is announced, Mikey finds himself entering with two of his friends. Perhaps he enters because he's dared to enter. But once he begins knitting lessons, he realizes that it's not so simple and anything but a 'little' contribution to the war effort.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this historical picture book. It was inspired by real events.
The New York Times reported that the event raised $4,000. Mrs. Ethel Rizzo of East 67th Street, who completed an entire sweater in around six hours, won the prize for fastest knitter. Over the course of three days, volunteers knitted 50 sweaters, 48 mufflers, and 224 pairs of socks. Prize winners included four blind women, two men, an eighty-three year old woman, and four children under the age of eleven. 
I would definitely recommend this one! I found it a compelling story with a fascinating author's note.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, April 13, 2018

Make A Wish, Molly

Make A Wish, Molly. Barbara Cohen. 1994. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I didn't know about birthdays. In Russia we hadn't celebrated birthdays. But I learned once we came to Winter Hill. I had started school in the fall, and I'd hated it. But by spring I didn't hate it anymore. That's because I had a friend. Her name was Emma. Her desk was next to mine.

Premise/plot: Molly gets the chance to learn about birthdays--and birthday parties--in this early chapter book by Barbara Cohen. But perhaps more importantly she gets the chance to learn something about herself.

Molly sees a BEAUTIFUL decorated cake in a shop window. Her friend says she'll have a cake like that and her birthday party in a few weeks. Molly might get a chance to taste such a delectable cake for herself--it seems almost too good to be true.

Unfortunately, the birthday party takes place during Passover week. Molly does NOT want to take her own food to snack on--not while her friends are enjoying that incredible cake. Could she--should she--eat the cake anyway?

My thoughts: What a lovely little story! It's historical fiction--presumably early to mid-twentieth century. The family of our wonderful little heroine is Jewish--recently arrived from Russia. Their traditions are not the same as everyone else. Part of Molly longs to fit in no matter what. Coming-of-age novels address the question who am I? This does just that. I loved Molly's confidence by the end of the novel!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kat Writes a Song

Kat Writes a Song. Greg Foley. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  It was a gray and rainy day. Kat was stuck indoors. She was sad because there was no one to play with. "If I write a song, maybe it will make me feel better," Kat said.

Premise/plot: Kat, the ADORABLE heroine of Greg Foley's picture book, sets out to write a song one rainy day. The name of the song she writes is the "Amazing Song to Make Things Better." A song, once written, is meant to be SHARED. And share her music she does! Will the song make things better?!

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. It is adorable, sweet, and fun. I would say it had me at the end covers--which you should definitely take notice of, by the way--but in all honesty, it was the cover that got me. I didn't even have to open the book to know that it was LOVE--that I was in for quite a treat. The book did not disappoint.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Monster and Mouse Go Camping

Monster and Mouse Go Camping. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Jared Chapman. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Monster was having a snack when Mouse burst in the front door. "Let's go camping!" she said. "What's camping?" Monster asked. "Camping is great!" Mouse said. "You walk in the woods. You sleep in a tent. You tell spooky stories."

Premise/plot: Will Mouse convince her friend Monster to go camping? Of course! But will things go according to plan? Of course not! Monster's first camping trip will be memorable though!

My thoughts: I liked it. I liked both Mouse and Monster. At first I wasn't sure I liked the illustrations, but, the second time I read the book I enjoyed it more. I found the illustrations more expressive than I originally thought. The twist at the end made the book work for me.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers