Saturday, November 18, 2017

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. Dr. Seuss. 1978. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I can read in red. I can read in blue. I can read in pickle color too.

Premise/plot: The Cat in the Hat is back in Dr. Seuss' I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. In this one, he's showing off--classic Cat style--about how great a reader he is.

My thoughts: I enjoy this one very much. I do agree that "you have to be a speedy reader 'cause there's so, so much to read." With such fun and silly phrases as: "You can read about anchors. And all about ants. You can read about ankles! And crocodile pants!" this one is just a delight.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 16, 2017

88 Instruments

88 Instruments. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Louis Thomas. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 88! That's how many pounding, surrounding, astounding-mound-of-sounding instruments are in this shop. But...I can take lessons on only one. Not 75, or 64, or 33, or 12. "One," says Dad. "For now," says Mom. "Your pick!" says Dad. "Within reason," says Mom. How am I supposed to pick just one? Do I pick the squeeziest? The wheeziest?

Premise/plot: The narrator of 88 Instruments is having a tough time deciding on ONE instrument from the music shop. What instrument should he learn to play first? One thing is for certain, he is going to look at ALL of his options and not just pick the first thing he sees.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I loved the descriptive language. I loved the dialogue. It worked really well, in my opinion. I loved the passion and enthusiasm. Which technically I suppose you'd call the narrative voice. I thought Barton did great at capturing that magic moment.
plink! It's so clear. PLUNK. So right. PLUNNNNNNNNK! So right for me. I'm going to learn the plinkiest...the plunkiest...and, here to there, the spunkiest--the PIANO!
The illustrations are nearly (but not quite) as expressive as the text.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where Teddy Bears Come From

Where Teddy Bears Come From. Mark Burgess. Illustrated by Russell Ayto. 2009. Peachtree Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In the middle of a deep, dark forest, all the creatures were fast asleep except for a little gray wolf, who tossed and turned and couldn't sleep a wink.

Premise/plot: Little Wolf is having trouble sleeping. He thinks he may have a solution: a teddy bear. But WHERE DO TEDDY BEARS COME FROM?! He asks his mother first. But when she doesn't know he's off on a quest in the deep, dark forest to ask just about everyone his question. Who will know the answer?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I loved all the fairy tale twists and turns. Little Wolf asks The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and others his all-important question. Will Little Wolf get his teddy bear?!

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Aristocats: A Counting Book

The Aristocats: A Counting Book. Walt Disney Productions Presents. 1970. Whitman Tell-a-Tale Book. 26 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: 1 One lovely mother cat sitting in the sun, purring purrs, licking fur--ONE, ONE, ONE. Her name is Duchess. 2 Here's a little lady kitten singing songs for you, singing with her mother cat--TWO, TWO, TWO. Her name is Marie. 3 Well, look! A brother kitten comes to practice with Marie while Duchess helps them learn the tunes--THREE, THREE, THREE. His name is Berlioz. Another brother kitten's here, painting on the floor, painting all his family--FOUR, FOUR, FOUR. Toulouse is his name.

Premise/plot: This counting book features the stars of the Disney movie Aristocats. The retelling is a bit forced in places since it is a COUNTING book and not a regular story book. And this retelling also isn't true to the movie!

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, CRAZY LOVE the movie Aristocats. When I saw this book, I had to have it.

Text 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 13, 2017


Julius. Syd Hoff. (An I Can Read Book) 1959. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Davy went to Africa. His father was going to catch an animal for the circus.

Premise/plot: Mr. Smith is looking to bring back an animal for the circus. His son, Davy, is there to help. In fact, it is Davy who finds Julius, a gorilla, who is super-excited about belonging to the circus. But is circus life really for Julius?

My thoughts: This book is dated. I'd even say incredibly super-dated--for better or worse. It is exactly what you'd expect a book written in the 1950s to be like in terms of depicting Africans, wild animals, and those who hunt them. In this case, the hunt is about finding a new circus animal. (It could just as easily been about finding a new zoo animal.)

The animals depicted look cartoon-ish whether than realistic. This isn't a bad thing, in my opinion, since Hoff has the rejected animals muttering, "Some animals have all the luck." Realism isn't to be found in Julius.

What you get is an over-the-top silly story. A gorilla who is civilized, who probably has better table manners than most children. This gorilla isn't taken from Africa against his will. He volunteers and is excited. "The men carried Julius through the woods. Sometimes Julius gave the men a rest." On one page, he's in the cage. In the next, he's carrying the men in a cage.

Still, silly or not, realistic or not, Davy spends half the book carrying a gun. This book also features a clown or two.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Took My Frog to the Library

I Took My Frog to the Library. Eric A. Kimmel. Illustrated by Blanche Sims. 1990. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I took my frog to the library, but he jumped on the checkout desk and scared the librarian. I took my hen to the library, but she laid an egg in the card catalog.

Premise/plot: Bridgett loves, loves, loves to go to the library. So do her animals. The librarian isn't so happy to see the animals. Can Bridgett find a way to make her animals AND the librarian happy?

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I love stories that follow a pattern. That is I love picture books and early readers that follow a pattern. The pattern here, of course, is "I took my _____ to the library, but _________________." I think parents and teachers could take advantage of the silliness and have little ones write their own stories. And the stories wouldn't even have to be only about the library.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Log and Admiral Frog

The Log and Admiral Frog. B. Wiseman. 1961. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence:  Two frogs saw a log floating toward them. At least it looked like a log.

Premise/plot: Sometimes a log is not a log. Sometimes diplomacy fails--at least when you send a rabbit. Sometimes what you need is an Admiral Frog. Admiral Frog brings all sorts of animals together as a team and teaches them how to defend themselves against this enemy--this log. Turtles. Fish. Small birds. Big birds. Beavers. Skunks. Or are they navy ships, submarines, jets, bombers, and tear gas? Will the log surrender?

My thoughts: It was interesting. I'm not sure yet if it's good interesting. It begins with two frogs reporting to everyone what they've seen. A log that tried to eat them. An old rabbit says that they all just need to talk to the frog. He's confident that they can be friends with the log. The others doubt him, but give him a chance. The frog that does end up leading them is a "young frog nobody knew." His FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT mentality ends up being exactly what they need.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers