Friday, February 23, 2018

Willa's Butterfly Ballet

Willa's Butterfly Ballet (American Girl, WellieWishers). Judy Katschke. 2018. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's a sunny day in the garden.

Premise/plot: Willa's Butterfly Ballet is a Level 2 early reader. In the book, Willa and her friends discover five chrysalises almost ready to turn into butterflies. The girls decide to turn the occasion into a party. The girls will dress up and dance when the butterflies emerge. The girls ready their costumes and plan their dance moves, but all doesn't go according to plan. Willa's costume doesn't stay "perfect" for long. How will Willa cope with the situation?

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this early reader much more than the Meet the WellieWishers picture book. It includes a paper doll of Willa. I am assuming that there will be more books in the series so that by collecting the books one will soon have all five WellieWishers in paper doll format.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Meet the WellieWishers

Meet the WellieWishers. (American Girl) Judy Katschke. 2018. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The WellieWishers are a group of girls who each have the same big, bright wish: to be a good friend! Willa, Emerson, Camille, Kendall, and Ashlyn play together in a large and leafy garden cared for by Willa's Aunt Miranda. The girls all have garden boots known as wellingtons or "wellies." When they wear their wellies, the girls are ready for anything! Are you ready to meet the WellieWishers?

Premise/plot: Readers meet more than the WellieWishers in this new picture book. Readers "meet" the WellieWishers, the WellieWishers' playsets, and the WellieWishers' animals. Readers also "learn" about the four seasons.

My thoughts: American Girl books are nothing new, I suppose. But they've expanded their publishing market to include picture books and early readers. Previous titles in the chapter books series, seem to focus more on story and character than in marketing toys. I think the dolls are adorable. But I can't bring myself to think of this book as anything but an AmericanGirl catalog in disguise.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Meet the Beanie Boos

Meet the Beanie Boos. Joan Emerson. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The Beanie Boos' world is full of beauty, wonder, and even a little magic. Beanie Boos live all over the world--in the Fantastical Forest, on the Mystic Mountains, in the Iridescent Islands, and even in the Shimmering Sky. Each bighearted Beanie Boo is unique, but they all have one thing in common: They love making new friends. These cute and cuddly creatures can't wait to meet you!

Premise/plot: This book introduces the current--as of Spring 2018--Beanie Boos available to purchase. Each Beanie Boo gets his or her own page. The book includes the names, the poems, other statistics, and a few sentences of story.

For example, Kiki is the grey-striped kitty with the pink bow. This is what we learn about her.
Personal poem: My friends call me kitty, kitty/Because they say I'm pretty pretty.
Likes: The color pink, bows, photography
Dislikes: Poor lighting, bad angles
Favorite food: Spinach
Hobby: Modeling
Motto: Vogue! Strike a pose!
Birthday: August 16
Kiki dreams of becoming a world-famous model. She practices her strut every day on the kittywalk and poses in the mirror. She doesn't just want to be in front of the camera, she wants to be behind it, too. She loves photography and is always snapping great pictures of her friends. 
My thoughts: It is what it is. What you see is what you get. If your little one loves Beanie Boos, then chances are they may want this one. It does include one page of stickers. It isn't fantastic literature in the grand scheme of things, but it may just get your little one excited about books.

I had very low expectations of this one--in terms of writing. It is better than I thought it might be. I have three of the Beanie Boos featured in the book. The book is not comprehensive. There are plenty of Beanie Boos not mentioned or included. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Two Mutch Sisters

The Two Mutch Sisters. Carol Brendler. Illustrated by Lisa Brown. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The Mutch sisters were collectors. It started when they were very little girls. First there were two toy teapots. One for Ruby, one for Violet. As the sisters grew, so did their collection....

Premise/plot: The Mutch sisters have TOO much stuff. At least one sister thinks so. Ruby, not so much. One day she has had ENOUGH. She's ready for a change. What will Violet do next....?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It is a unique story. Usually when senior citizens appear in picture books, they show up as grandpas and grandmas. The focus is still mostly on the kid. But in this one, we have two heroines--a pair of sisters. And the focus is on their habits, their hoarding behaviors.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Squash and a Squeeze

A Squash and a Squeeze. Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. 1993/2004/2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A little old lady lived all by herself with a table and chairs and a jug on the shelf. A wise old man heard her grumble and grouse, "There's not enough room in my house. Wise old man, won't you help me please? My house is a squash and a squeeze."

Premise/plot: Will the 'little old lady' learn a valuable lesson when she takes advice from the 'wise old man'?!

My thoughts: I really like this one. I remember hearing a similar story on Between the Lions back in the day. I enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme of it.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 16, 2018

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. Laurel Snyder. Illustrated by Emily Hughes. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There was a knock. At the door. There was a knock at the door! It was Grumpy! "GRUMPY!"

Premise/plot: Charlie and Mouse are back for a second set of adventures. This early chapter book stars two lovable brothers and their grandpa, GRUMPY. The chapters are "Medium," "Pouncing," "Songs," and "Good-bye." In the first story, Mouse explains that he's "medium." He's bigger than he was--small--but he's not big like his brother.
"What is it like being medium?"
"When you are medium," said Mouse, "you can read some books. But also, people read books to you."
"What else?" asked Grumpy.
Mouse thought again.
"When you are medium, you can swim. But your mom sits on the steps and watches. Just in case."
"Ahh," said Grumpy. "It sounds very nice to be medium."
"It is," said Mouse.
"And how many hot dogs can you eat?" asked Grumpy. "When you are medium?"
"You can still eat three hot dogs," Mouse said. "But not with mustard. Mustard is not medium."
"That makes sense," said Grumpy.
 In the second story, Charlie and Mouse try to POUNCE Grumpy--but it's hard catching him asleep, or is it?! In the third story, Grumpy tries to put Charlie and Mouse to bed, but he's singing the wrong bedtime songs. In the fourth story, it is sadly time for Grumpy to go home from his visit. Even the blankets are sad.

My thoughts: I love, love, love, love, love, CRAZY love the Charlie and Mouse books. MORE PLEASE. I love the characters. I love the writing. I love the stories. I love the pacing. I love EVERYTHING.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Buster and the Baby

Buster and the Baby. Amy Hest. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. 2017. [October 24, 2017] Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Thump, thump, thump. In the little red house, a dog ducks under the table.

Premise/plot: Thus begins one of the most perfectly-perfect picture books I've read this year. Buster and the Baby is a DELIGHTFUL action-packed adventure story. During the day, Buster hides and the baby finds and chases him; he loves it. These two are a perfect pair. But at night, well, she's tucked into bed...and it's his turn to "find" her.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, CRAZY-LOVED this one. I loved the characters.  I love the writing. I loved the repetition. I loved the rhythm. I loved the pacing. I loved the JOY.
Out of the shadows she comes. Squealing and whirling and bumping his nose! Go, Buster. Go, Buster. Go, Buster, go! He wriggles behind the chair. Behind the blue chair is a good place to hide. (Maybe). He waits. And watches. And waits some more. Thump, goes his heart. Thump, thump, thump! Then... 
I loved the illustrations as well. Polly Dunbar has illustrated some of my favorite books.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers