Friday, November 16, 2018

Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story

Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story. Edward Hemingway. 2018. Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: Once upon a time, while Fox was visiting Christmastown, in the Land of Holiday Treats...a little cookie--still warm from the bakery oven--burst out the front door and shouted, "I'm a sweet cookie!"

Premise/plot: Sugar Cookie Man thinks he should be both sweet and fast...but he isn't. Can he learn to be okay with that? Sugar Cookie Man may not realize his purpose, but he does have one.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I have always enjoyed the Gingerbread Man story. This playfully touches on that story...but only a little. It stars a FOX and a COOKIE. The cookie does boast and the fox does give chase. Sugar Cookie Man learns by trial and error that he was baked with a specific purpose in mind. He's not for eating...but for hanging as an ornament on a tree. (If he was an EATING cookie the book would be quite short since the Fox would have gobbled him up by page two or three.)

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Peeps at School

Peeps at School. Andrea Posner-Sanchez. Illustrated by Daniela Massironi. 2018. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Who is ready for school? The Peeps chicks are!

Premise/plot: This is an early reader starring PEEPS at school. The text is super-simple. The colors are just as bright and bold as the candy.

My thoughts: I am not a fan of the candy, but I am a fan of the toys. This early reader is cute. It may not have much substance in the grand scheme of things--but it's an enjoyable treat. If you have a little one who loves PEEPS this one may be worth your time.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Winter is Here

Winter Is Here. Kevin Henkes. Illustrated by Laura Dronzek. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Winter is here. It's everywhere. It's falling from the sky and sitting on the houses and dripping from the roofs and sticking to the trees in clumps and curls.

Premise/plot: Kevin Henkes' newest book is a poetic description of the winter season.
Winter comes without a sound...
and it comes with many.
The wind howls in every language
and the windows rattle. 
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I liked the text very much. But I loved, loved, loved the illustrations.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Board book: Bow-Wow 12 Months Running

Bow-Wow 12 Months Running. Mark Newgarden. Illustrated by Megan Montague Cash. 2009. 18 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: January. February. March. April. May. June.

Premise/plot: Bow-Wow stars in this board book doubling as a concept book. The text is simply the twelve months of the years. The illustrations show Bow-Wow in each month.

My thoughts: Quite a lot is communicated about the months of the year through the illustrations. The book--like the others in the series--is simple yet more often than not effective. The illustrations are bright, bold, and expressive.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Woof and Quack in Winter

Woof and Quack in Winter (Green Light Readers Level 1) Jamie Swenson. Illustrated by Ryan Sias. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 37 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Woof, I am not flying south this year. But ducks always fly south, Quack. I want to stay with you in winter. This duck is staying put.

Premise/plot:  Woof and Quack are an unusual duo. Woof is a dog that doesn't like to play fetch; Quack is a duck that doesn't fly south in the winter. This book is about what these two friends do in the winter.

My thoughts: I liked this one. It was silly just like the first book in this early reader series. (The first book is Meet Woof and Quack.) The dialogue between these two is fun.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Meet Woof & Quack

Meet Woof and Quack (Green Light Readers Level 1) Jamie Swenson. Illustrated by Ryan Sias. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 37 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Would you like to play a game, Woof? Yes. What shall we play, Quack?

Premise/plot: Quack wants to play fetch with his friend Woof. But Woof is a dog who does NOT like to play fetch. Fortunately, Woof is a dog who likes to throw. So the two do get to play fetch together. What makes this one silly is WHAT is being thrown.

My thoughts: This one is super-silly. Woof and Quack are a silly duo that your little one may love to meet. I enjoyed the text. I didn't quite love, love, love the illustrations. But overall I'd recommend this one.  

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Where's Ellie? A Hide and Seek (Board) Book

Board book: Where's Ellie? A Hide and Seek Book. Salina Yoon. 2012. Random House. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Where is Ellie hiding? Is she behind the plant? No, that's a teapot!

Premise/plot: Ellie (the elephant) is hiding. Can little ones find out where she's hiding in this super adorable board book by Salina Yoon?

My thoughts: I love that the elephant's ear and trunk are tactilely pleasing. There are many reasons why I love this one actually. I love, love, love elephants. Always have, always will. I don't think I'll ever outgrow my desire to have a pet elephant. Hide-and-seek books--with or without flaps--can be great fun to read with little ones. This one does not have flaps. A turn of the page reveals the surprise--was that Ellie? or was it something else? The front cover--and almost all of the pages--do have a cut-out. This cut-out is vital to the game of hide-and-seek. And I think it's also great for little grasping hands.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Board book: Bow-Wow's Colorful Life

Bow-Wow's Colorful Life. Mark Newgarden. Illustrated by Megan Montague Cash. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Red! Orange! Yellow! Green!

Premise/plot: Bow-Wow is the star of a board book series. Each board book "teaches" a concept. This one teaches colors. Bow-Wow is tugging the socks off his human. It's a silly, super-simple story that I found delightful.

My thoughts: I think this one is my favorite Bow-Wow story. I love the ending. It's predictable--since Bow-Wow is a dog--but fun too.

Have you read the Bow-Wow series? Which one is your favorite?  

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Bow-Wow Hears Things

Board book: Bow-Wow Hears Things. Mark Newgarden. Illustrated by Megan Montague Cash. 2008. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Honk. No. Splash? No. Tick-tock? No.

Premise/plot: This one stars a little bird and Bow-Wow. It is a simple story doubling as a concept book teaching sounds. (But I think that is a far, far, far stretch of an imagination.) What sound should the bird be making?

My thoughts: This is a STRANGE board book. I've appreciated the other books in the Bow-Wow series. They've been short, simple, even very-very simple. Yet they've been funny too. This one is just bizarre. Of course, I am bringing my adult perspective to it. If I was a toddler would I find the idea of a bird going tick-tock hilarious? Maybe?!

If your little one has enjoyed the other books in the series then this one might be worth it as well. But don't start with this one. It might not be the best one to try out in terms of appeal.
 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Bow-Wow Orders Lunch

Board book: Bow-Wow Orders Lunch. Mark Newgarden. Illustrated by Megan Montague Cash. 2007. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Bread. Cheese. Bread. Cheese. Bread.

Premise/plot: Bow-Wow is getting ready to enjoy a sandwich. But what does he want on his sandwich? This board book doubles as a concept book teaching patterns. But it is also a very simple--yet funny--story.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It is 100% silly. It's a stretch to call it a concept book even. But even though there's not much to it--I couldn't help finding it charming. I don't know why I liked it so much. I just know that I do.




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Bow-Wow Attracts Opposites

Board book: Bow-Wow Attracts Opposites. Mark Newgarden. Illustrated by Megan Montague Cash. 2008. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Up. Down. In. Out. Over. Under.

Premise/plot: Bow-Wow starrs in several board books. This board book doubles as a concept book teaching opposites. But it is also a very simple--yet funny--story.

You don't have to use a lot of words to tell a good story--if you let the illustrations do the talking for you. In this one, Bow-Wow chases a cat.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I am not sure that it is my favorite Bow-Wow story but it's nice.

I really love the bright and bold illustrations.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 5, 2018

Board book: All Aboard! The Christmas Train

All Aboard! The Christmas Train. Nichole Mara. Illustrated by Andrew Kolb. 2018. Abrams. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Each "page" in this book is a car in the train. Pull out each car to see the train at its full length. Then lift the flaps to discover who is riding in each car. Don't forget to look for all the hideen things.

Premise/plot: This novelty board book folds out--accordion style--to reveal a Christmas train. There is text to be read on each side of the train.

My thoughts: It might sound silly that a children's book is so complex that it needs instructions for parents to be able to use it. But. I do think the instructions are necessary. Books that fold out can be unwieldy and stubborn when it comes to actually reading them with a young child. Story times often happen on the lap--though not always. If you can gracefully read this one with a toddler in your lap--you might have a super-power.

But if you approach this one as more of a toy than a story--I think it works. Some books are toys. I think this one is more of a toy. I think train-loving toddlers will enjoy this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, November 2, 2018

Mr. Monkey Visits a School

Mr. Monkey Visits a School. Jeff Mack. 2018. Simon and Schuster. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Monkey learns a trick. Almost. He tries it again. And again. And again! He gets it! Now he's ready to put on a show!

Premise/plot: Mr. Monkey has been invited by a school librarian to visit the school. It's a good thing he's just learned a new trick. But performing a trick and learning a trick aren't quite the same thing. So many unexpected things happen--even before he arrives at the school. What kind of show will Mr. Monkey put on for the students?!

My thoughts: Jeff Mack has a new early reader series for young readers. The first two books are Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake and Mr. Monkey Visits a School. I really enjoyed both books. My library's "hold" sticker covered up the number on the spine, so I happened to read the two books out of order. Would I have enjoyed Mr. Monkey Visits a School more if I'd read the books in order? Maybe. I don't know. I definitely enjoyed it. Mr. Monkey--as I mentioned earlier--is a HOOT.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mr. Monkey Bakes A Cake

Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake. Jeff Mack. 2018. Simon and Schuster. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Monkey makes a cake. He adds sugar. He adds an egg. He adds bananas. That's okay. Monkeys like bananas. Mr. Monkey mixes the cake. Mr. Monkey bakes the cake. Mr. Monkey frosts the cake. Good job, Mr. Monkey! Now you can eat your cake!

Premise/plot: Jeff Mack has a new early reader series for young readers. The first two books are Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake and Mr. Monkey Visits a School. In the first book, Mr. Monkey bakes a cake. But it isn't as simple as you might think: mix a cake, bake a cake, eat a cake, or share a cake with a friend. No this is a FUNNY story with plenty of twists and turns. Also plenty of BANANAS.

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I read both books in one sitting. This was my favorite. I loved Mr. Monkey's comical adventures. He is a HOOT. Dare I say an absolute hoot?! 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Life With My Family

Life with My Family. Renee Hooker and Karl Jones. Illustrated by Kathryn Hurst. 2018. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Life with my family is not always easy. So sometimes I wonder what else we could be... As a pod of pelicans, we'd soar above trees. No time to fight as a busy swarm of bees.

Premise/plot: A young girl imagines what her family life would be like if they were animals instead of humans. Essentially this is a creative way of showcasing collective nouns: pod of pelicans, school of fish, pride of lions, wisdom of wombats, etc. The author's note includes at least a dozen more examples.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I didn't love, love, love the illustrations. However, I liked how characteristics or traits of the human family carried over to their animal family counterparts. For example, the baby is always, always, always shown with a pacifier no matter if he's a fish, a buffalo, or a lion. The illustrations also had a good amount of details. For example, on the last spread there are LEGO bricks all over the kitchen floor.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Wall in the Middle of the Book

The Wall in the Middle of the Book. Jon Agee. 2018. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There's a wall in the middle of the book. And it's a good thing. The wall protects this side of the book...from the other side of the book. This side of the book is safe. The other side is not.

Premise/plot: A knight is convinced that his side of the wall is safe...but is it really? Could the knights have his facts wrong?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It is a quirky--but fun--read. Adults may enjoy this one just as much--if not more--than children. I loved seeing the action unfold on both sides of the wall. The text is very understated, in my opinion. The illustrations were quite revealing. (Dare I say that one could "read" this one without being able to read the text?)

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 8, 2018

Who Eats Orange?

Who Eats Orange. Dianne White. Illustrated by Robin Page. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Who eats orange? Bunnies in their hutches do. Chickens in the henhouse too. Who else eats orange? Goats. Pigs. Gorillas too. Gorillas? No! Gorillas don't eat orange. They eat...

Premise/plot: This nonfiction concept book focuses on the colors various animals eat.

My thoughts: I picked this one up because of the awesome cover. It said--to me--READ ME, READ ME. I had high expectations because of the cover. The book didn't meet those high expectations, but that says more about me than the book itself. If you choose a book based solely on a cover without reading any reviews, then that's a risk you take--being disappointed.

So this one goes through a rainbow of colors. White chooses a few animals to highlight per color. My slight issue with the book--again this says more about me--is that animals rarely eat just one color. So while bunnies do eat orange carrots--they eat plenty of other vegetables that are not orange. You could just as easily list them under green. I read the notes on each animal, and more often than not, the animals eat a rainbow of colors. It just seems arbitrary to me to assign one color per animal.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 5, 2018

Board book: Anne's Colors

Anne's Colors. Kelly Hill. 2018. 20 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Orange braids/ white blossoms/ black hair/ pink cheeks

Premise/plot: This color concept book is inspired by L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. It stars Anne, Matthew, Marilla, Diana, and Gilbert. Each spread just has two words. Yet the illustrations capture moments from the novel quite well--all things considered. (I mean two words are TWO words.)

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I wanted to find a kindred spirit in this one. And I did--mostly. But I think it would be better if the colors were arranged differently. The current presentation is sequential--for the most part--except for one spread. They end the book dramatically with GREEN GABLES. Anne is bringing a bouquet of flowers to Marilla AND Matthew. I can see why--for the drama--they'd want to end with that. But. It would have been truer to the book if they'd ended with Anne and Gilbert's PURPLE TWILIGHT. So my preferred order: orange, white, green, black, pink, red, blue, brown, yellow, purple.

The illustrations are PRECIOUS.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Bath! Bath! Bath!

Bath! Bath! Bath! Douglas Florian. Illustrated by Christiane Engel. 2018. 18 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Today we had such fun! fun! fun! But now the day is done! done! done! You're so full of dirt! dirt! dirt! Take off your pants and shirt! shirt! shirt!

Premise/plot: Who's ready for BATH TIME?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I wish my library had Douglas Florian's Play! Play! Play! I'd love to compare these two. If the children in Bath! Bath! Bath! are the same children in Play! Play! Play! I bet they play hard. These kids are happy and filthy--absolutely filthy. The good news is that bath time is an extension of play time as far as they are concerned. Baths are FUN.




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Peaceful Rights for Equal Rights

Peaceful Rights for Equal Rights. Rob Sanders. Illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Assemble. Take action. Create allies. Make buttons. Make banners. Make bumper stickers, too. Boycott! Boycott! Boycott! Chant. Cheer. Call someone. Campaign. Camp out. Demonstrate. Don't give up. Don't give in. Educate. Encourage. Be fearless. Fly a flag. File a lawsuit. Have faith.

Premise/plot: This is another case of what you see is what you get. This politically-driven (or human-rights-driven) picture book isn't about any one issue or any one fight. It isn't set in the past, and it's not specifically about the civil rights movement. There is a timelessness to this one--it could be set anywhere, anytime, and be about anything.

My thoughts: Perhaps a better description of this one would be verb-driven. You can't fail to notice all the verbs--the emphasizing on action, on doing. It's also arranged alphabetically. There is more than one way to "fight" or to "protest."

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Board book: Don't Wake the Tiger!

Changing Faces: Don't Wake the Tiger. Nathan Thoms. Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. 2018. Abrams. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: Oh no! You woke the tiger! Quick, turn the page...Shhh...Don't wake the panda!

Premise/plot: Little ones "wake" up animals in this cute, new interactive board book. The turning of the pages opens the closed eyes of the animal. The animals readers wake up are the tiger, the panda, the lion, and the elephant.

My thoughts: If your little one LOVED Meet Happy Bear, then Don't Wake the Tiger! might be a great addition to your home library. I personally love Meet Happy Bear more. In my opinion it had more story to it. The changing faces is still fun in Don't Wake the Tiger, but there is definitely less story.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dr. Seuss's You Are Kind: Featuring Horton the Elephant

Dr. Seuss's You Are Kind: Featuring Horton the Elephant. Random House. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: You are kind. You are an amazing friend. You always listen. If there's a problem, you help fix it. You stand up for what is right. You teach that everyone matters. You protect those who need it, no matter how small.

Premise/plot: This gift book is written in the second person. The publisher's description says this book would make a great substitute for a card.

My thoughts: I love, love, LOVE Horton the elephant. I've reviewed Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and Horton and the Kwuggerbug. This is not a new Horton book. And it isn't really written by Dr. Seuss. So long as you know that this is a novelty gift book featuring illustrations of Horton, I don't think you'll be disappointed. The text is sweet and affirmative. It is definitely gift book quality.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

All Are Welcome

All are Welcome. Alexandra Penfold. Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. 2018. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Pencils sharpened in their case. Bells are ringing, let's make haste. School's beginning, dreams to chase. All are welcome here. No matter how you start your day. What you wear when you play. Or if you come from far away. All are welcome here. In our classroom safe and sound. Fears are lost and hope is found. Raise your hand, we'll go around. All are welcome here.

Premise/plot: All are welcome at school. This picture book is written in verse. The first half seems to focus more on the school day. The second half seems to expand the focus and become more agenda-driven. When a book's message is especially well-received, readers--critics--praise it. Otherwise message-driven books are called didactic.

The book is a good reminder that all books--even picture books--have a world view.

My thoughts: Do we really need a picture book affirming that all are welcome at school?! Maybe, maybe not. I haven't decided yet.

From a literary viewpoint, the text is quite excellent. The rhythm and rhyme work for me. (Again focusing just on the literary aspects of it.) There are some phrases that are just beautiful.

I did have a problem with the 'passing bread' phrase of the text. The idea of SHARING food may sound poetic and lovely. But with so many food sensitivities and allergies being present the idea seems unpractical and even dangerous.

I mentioned that this is in some ways an agenda-driven book. This happens, in part, because of the text. But mainly this is through the illustrations. The text states ALL are welcome. But it is the illustrations that reveal the many, many, many examples of all.

From a spiritual viewpoint, this one is slightly more iffy. Tolerance. It all depends on how you define--view--tolerance. Is tolerance about civility, respect, kindness, compassion, empathy, treating others the way you'd want to be treated? This view is the old school view of tolerance. It makes sense--on all levels--not to treat people with hate, with anger, with disrespect, with cruelty. Name-calling, finger-pointing, shouting, getting into someone's personal space--there is no good excuse for such behavior ever.  

But there's a new view of tolerance hanging around and taking hold. All absolutes have been done away with except one: there are no absolutes; all ideas, all beliefs, all philosophies, all lifestyles, all worldviews, all choices are equally true and valid--even when they clash, even when they contradict one another. To criticize an idea, a belief, a philosophy, a lifestyle, a worldview is not acceptable ever.

Which kind of tolerance is the book promoting? I'm not sure. I'm really not. 

That being said...in my opinion...school and school-related activities are not the time and place to battle out ideas, to have debates and discussions, to engage (civil or not) with those who may disagree with us. Especially elementary school. (The illustrations place this one in an elementary school.) It isn't a teacher's place to judge her students backgrounds. It isn't a parent's place to judge the backgrounds of other students. Indeed ALL should be welcome. Not just "welcome" but genuinely welcomed. (Just because school isn't an appropriate place doesn't mean that there isn't a time and place anywhere.)

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Good Rosie

Good Rosie. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2018. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Rosie lives with George. Rosie is a good dog. Every morning, Rosie and George eat breakfast together. George has two poached eggs. Rosie eats kibble from a big silver bowl.  When the bowl is empty, Rosie can see another dog staring back at her. "Hello!" says Rosie. Ruff! "Hello?" says Rosie. The other dog never answers. That makes Rosie feel lonely.

Premise/plot: Will Rosie make a friend? Will Rosie make two friends? Essentially that is the plot of Good Rosie! Will this shy dog be brave enough to make friends with the other dogs at the local dog park. At first Rosie is not a fan. Why did her person, George, bring her here?! Why doesn't George understand that she is NOT happy and wants to go back home?! Will Rosie learn how to make friends?

My thoughts: I like this one. The dog park is a bit intimidating. Rosie is a lot braver than I would be in her situation. For Rosie to witness what she did and to forgive Maurice and be his friend is something. (Maurice is a giant of a dog.) Same goes with Fifi/Fif. Perhaps this says something about the nature of dogs? I'm not sure.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise. David Ezra Stein. 2018. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was after school for the little red chicken. "Well, Chicken," said Papa, "did you have a good day at school?" "Yes, Papa! And today my teacher told us every story has an elephant of surprise. So let's read a story, and we'll find the elephant." "Chicken, she wasn't talking about an elephant. She was talking about an element of surprise.

Premise/plot: The Interrupting Chicken is back for a second book. In this picture book sequel, Papa is trying to teach his daughter, Chicken, about the ELEMENT of surprise. He reads her three stories: The Ugly Duckling, Rapunzel, and The Little Mermaid. There are no elephants in those stories. Or are there?! Will Chicken introduce ELEPHANTS to these classic fairy tales?!

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved the first book. I didn't know how much I NEEDED a sequel until I saw this was being released. I don't know that I've ever put myself on the hold list so fast for a book.

This picture book did not disappoint. I loved every page of it. It was just a fabulous read. I adore Chicken and her Papa. I love their relationship. I love their dialogue. There is just something funny and sweet about these two.

I loved the illustrations. I enjoyed Chicken's illustrations for Papa's original story as well. Both text and illustrations are ADORABLE.
Once there was a Papa whose daughter LOVED elephants. And she thought she saw them everywhere. But there were no elephants! Every day, he got her dressed, but there were no elephants in the dresser. Every day, he fixed her breakfast, but there were no elephants in the refrigerator. And every day, he packed her off to--
 Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 21, 2018

Board book: Will Ladybug Hug?

Will Ladybug Hug? Hilary Leung. 2018. [October 30, 2018] Scholastic. 38 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Ladybug loves hugs! She hugs to say hello. She hugs to say good-bye...but will her friends let Ladybug hug?

Premise/plot: Ladybug loves to hug. But not all of her friends like to hug. Some friends would much prefer to high five than to hug. As Ladybug greets each of her friends, the narrator asks, "Will ... let Ladybug hug?" Each of her friends has a special way to hug.

My thoughts: I like this one. I recognized some of the characters because I've also read Will Bear Share? and Will Sheep Sleep? Because I already love these characters, I found this one charming and cute. I like that Sheep does not do hugs. I like that instead Ladybug gives six high-fives.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Am Human

I Am Human. Susan Verde. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 2018. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I am Human. I am always learning. I'm finding my way and choosing my path on this incredible journey. I have BIG dreams. I see possibility. I have endless curiosity. I make discoveries. I have a feeling of wonder. I am amazed by nature. I have a playful side. I find joy in friendships. I am Human.

Premise/plot: What you see is what you get.

What does it mean to be human? That is the question tackled in Susan Verde's newest picture book. It is very much a message-driven book. When a book's message is especially well-received, readers--critics--praise it. Otherwise message-driven books are called didactic.

The book is a good reminder that all books--even picture books--have a world view.

My thoughts: If I could unread the author's note, I might have a more open mind. But I can't. The author's note is a "guided meditation." Will children read the author's note? Will parents? Will teachers? How important is the author's note to the text as a whole? I can't answer all those questions. Obviously.

I was bothered by the capital H. This may or may not be Significant to the Message. I'm assuming it is. On the one hand, I suppose "Human" could be the proper name of narrator. There is no hidden-meaning or significance. On the other hand, it could be making a statement--spiritual, psychological, or philosophical.

I admit this could be an overreaction but. It felt like humanity was being elevated to deity, to God. I am Human. I am the Center of the Universe. I answer to no higher power. I define my own meaning; I make my own place in the universe. I am who I say I am. The book screams humanism. I read an article on humanistic psychology and it captured the message of the book perfectly.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Stealing the Sword (Time Jumpers #1)

Stealing the Sword. Time Jumpers #1. Wendy Mass. Illustrated by Oriol Vidal. 2018. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Sold!" Chase shouts. His younger sister, Ava, hands the cat sculpture to their latest happy customer.

Premise/plot: Chase and Ava are a brother and sister about to embark on quite an adventure. It starts at a flea market when they chance upon an old suitcase. The owner is reluctant because it's a locked case--she doesn't have the key--but when the case opens, as if by magic, for the kids, it soon has a new owner after all. The contents of the case are unusual without a doubt. The two soon find themselves traveling back in time....

My thoughts: Ava and Chase love history AND adventure so they are quite excited that this case found them.

I definitely liked this one. I like time travel stories. I would recommend this one easily--to children. Adults seeking time travel stories should probably look elsewhere. But for adult readers who love, love, love time travel and can't wait to introduce the genre to the children in their lives (their own children, nieces, nephews, etc.), it's worth considering.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sloth at the Zoom

Sloth at the Zoom. Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Orbie. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One bright day, a truck whizzed up to the front gate of the Zoom. There was a new animal being delivered. It was a sloth.

Premise/plot: The sloth was supposed to be delivered to the Zzzzoo. Instead the sloth is delivered to the ZOOM. She was looking forward to all the REST and RELAXATION promised to her at the Zzzzoo. She'll have some adapting to do. Her animal neighbors at the Zoom are....well, zoom-y.
At the Zoom, the zebras galloped so fast they left their stripes in puddles.
The monkeys climbed so fast they forgot to stop at the treetops.
And the parrots flew so fast their tails drew rainbows across the sky.
Will she ever make friends? Yes. But in her own time and in her own way.

My thoughts: I'm not sure if I'd rather visit a Zzzzoo where all the animals are sleeping or the Zoom where all the animals are crazy-busy-fast. The residents in this town--as evidenced by the end papers--don't have to choose. They have both.

I really enjoyed this one. I did. I enjoyed the writing style. The narrative was fun. I liked all the plays on words. I liked the theme of friendship as well. It does take time to make friends and to keep them. But friendship is worth slowing down for.

I loved, loved, LOVED the illustrations.

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





© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Itchy Book

The Itchy Book (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading) LeUyen Pham and Mo Willems. 2018. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Dinosaurs do not scratch." Who knew?

Premise/plot: The Itchy Book is an early reader in the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading series. Each book in the series opens and closes with a few pages of Gerald and Piggie.
Gerald! Do you like books that make you feel things?
I do.
Do you like books that make you feel things all over?
I DO!
Then I have a book for YOU!
"The Itchy Book"?
I feel you will love it!
The Itchy Book stars dinosaurs who really feel the need to scratch an itch...but...a sign reading, "DINOSAURS DO NOT SCRATCH" is holding them back. But for how long?! One dinosaur is insistent that HE would never scratch no matter how itchy he felt. The others are out to get him to see if he is really as "tough" as he claims.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I think my favorite part was when one of the dinosaurs asks, "If I say I am not a dinosaur, can I scratch?!" Did the book make me feel itchy? Not particularly. I think a book about yawning would work better perhaps. I almost always catch a yawn.

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



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper. Mike Twohy. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Aleep
Ball
Catch
Dog
Eye
Feet
Grrrr
Help!
I'll chase!
Jump
Kitchen
Living Room
Premise/plot: Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! is an alphabet caper by Mike Twohy. Without using a single complete sentence, Twohy packs adventure and drama into his story. It stars a dog and a mouse.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed Stop, Go, Yes, No! A Story Of Opposites. So I decided to read the first book, Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! Both books star this lovable dog. I really LOVED both books. They are great fun. They are good for pre-readers, early readers, and readers of all ages.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Daddy, Me, and the Magic Hour

Daddy, Me, and the Magic Hour. Laura Krauss Melmed. Illustrated by Sarita Rich. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: We're home! Thud go our backpacks on the front hall floor. Daddy starts cooking, while I run around like a super hero yelling, KAPOW! and Mommy feeds the baby.

Premise/plot: This picture book celebrates family life. A little boy LOVES, LOVES, LOVES the "magic hour" of the evening in which he gets to have alone time with his dad. After supper, the two go on an evening walk. Though this book just gives us one excursion, it is the ritual or tradition that comes through.

My thoughts: Love in action. That is what this picture book celebrates. It would be a shame if it only came out for Father's Day.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stop, Go, Yes, No!

 Stop, Go, Yes, No! A Story of Opposites. Mike Twohy. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Asleep
Awake
Over
Under
Smile
Frown
Premise/plot: A cat and dog star in Mike Twohy's latest picture book. Though this picture book doesn't have even one complete sentence, it does in fact have a story. Each page has a single word. Pre-readers could easily "tell" the story without having to read a single word.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I have not read Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run: An Alphabet Caper. But I do have it on hold now. That picture book appears to star the same exuberant dog. There is something joyful, exuberant, lively, spirited, just plain old-fashioned FUN about the story.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fiona the Hippo

Fiona the Hippo. Richard Cowdrey. 2018. Zonderkidz. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On a cold winter's night, a baby hippo was born.

Premise/plot: This picture book is loosely based on a true story. It is the story of a premature hippo named Fiona who lives at the Cincinnati Zoo. The perspective is not from the zookeepers but from Fiona herself and other animals at the zoo. There is a LOT of dialogue. I would recommend Saving Fiona by Thane Maynard instead because it is more factual and realistic. It is also packed with photographs.

My thoughts: If you enjoy stories where animals at the zoo run free from their cages, where all animals are best good buddies, where animals talk to one another, then this is the book for you. Here is where I stand: I don't mind animal fantasy I don't. I really don't. Give me a picture book with talking animals, animals in clothes, animals going to school or having their tonsils out, I'm fine with it. It is clearly a story. But because Fiona is real and this is based--however loosely--on a true story, I'm bothered by it.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 10, 2018

Board book: Lit for Little Hands: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (Lit for Little Hands). Lewis Carroll and Brooke Jordan. Illustrated by David Miles. 2018. 16 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One fine day, Alice saw a White Rabbit checking his pocket watch. Curious, she followed the rabbit down a deep, deep hole and found herself in wonderland.

Premise/plot: This one is part of the Lit for Little Hands series. Brooke Jordan has adapted Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for young readers. This is an interactive board book. The interaction starts with the cover. Notice the arrow on the top. Alice can grow! And that's just the start. The next page has her falling down, down, down the rabbit hole. But my favorite may just be the spinning wheel for the caucus-race. There is a surprise on almost every single page of this one making for a WONDERful read.

My thoughts: I love and adore this one. I was skeptical at first. Could a book be adapted down to a new, much younger audience? I'm not sure how little ones will respond--but if I'd let myself get carried away, I might have squealed in a couple of places. It's just a fun and delightful read.

Granted I may be a little biased. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. As the youngest in my family, I often got to hear books twice. Once when she was reading them aloud to my sister and I was super-tiny, and again when I was "old enough." (For example, when my sister was three and I was a newborn, and then when I was three.)

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Board book: First French Words

First French Words. Sam Hutchinson. Illustrated by Clare Beaton. 2018. 20 pages. [Source: Library]

Premise/plot: Each two-page spread has a theme: Food, Toys, Family, Animals, Clothes, Transport, Colors, Numbers, Weather, and Wild Animals. On each spread a number of words are shared with little ones. The words appear in French and English. (There is a pronunciation guide). Each word is also illustrated.

Some of the words included:
  • le pain (bread)
  • la glace (ice cream)
  • le fromage (cheese)
  • les patins a roulettes (skates)
  • le tricycle (tricycle)
  • la mere (mother)
  • le pere (father)
  • les cousins (cousins)
  • le chat (cat)
  • la souris (mouse)
  • la poule (chicken)
  • le chapeau (hat)
  • le pantalon (trousers)
  • le tee-shirt (T-shirt)
  • le tracteur (tractor)
  • le train (train)
  • la pelleteuse (digger)
  • noir (black)
  • orange (orange)
  • blanc (white)
  • rouge (red)
  • un (one)
  • deux (two)
  • trois (three)
  • le soleil (sun)
  • le tonnerre (thunder)
  • la neige (snow)
  • le lion (lion)
  • l'elephant (elephant)
  • le crocodile (crocodile)

My thoughts: I liked this one. It won't really help you learn French. No one speaks just in nouns after all. And also the text is somewhat limited to what is easy to illustrate. There isn't a spread covering conversations or etiquette. I suppose there wouldn't be an easy way to illustrate phrases like "How are you?" "Yes" "No" "I don't know" "Please" "Thank you" "You're Welcome."

As a refresher course for adults who have studied French, it is fun.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 7, 2018

Board books: Nita's First Signs

Nita's First Signs. Kathy MacMillan. Illustrated by Sara Brezzi. 2018. 12 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Nita is in her high chair eating crackers. Nita likes crackers. All done? Daddy signs. Eat more, signs Nita.

Premise/plot: This board book is designed to teach caregivers and their little ones ten signs that they can use to communicate with one another. The ten signs included are: all done, eat, more, please, thank you, hungry, milk, ball, play, and love. The board book has sliding pages which reveal the signs and give a description.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I'm not sure why Nita has blue hair--but other than that I liked it just fine! Parents can learn more about American Sign Language by visiting the author's website. There is a YouTube video of the author teaching these ten signs. 

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Board book: Hello Ninjas!

Hello Ninjas! Joan Holub. Illustrated by Chris Dickason. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Hello mask
Hello boots
Hello ninjas
wearing suits
Premise/plot: Ten ninjas are on a quest for TACO TREASURE. But will the Samurai get there first and take the tacos?

My thoughts: If I had to sum it up in one word: CONFUSED.  Clearly the book is teaching math facts--the ways to get to ten. 1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5. Clearly the book is doing this with NINJAS--ninja terms and themes. Clearly the author must love tacos--who doesn't love tacos? The book has humorous moments--a twist ending that resolves everything amicably. I'm just not sure it's for me. Then again, I am NOT the target audience in the first place.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Board books: Hello Knights

Hello Knights. Joan Holub. Illustrated by Chris Dickason. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Hello helmet
Hello knight
Hello armor shining bright
Knights run up
Knights run down
Take the queen the royal crown
Knights march here
Knights march there
Take the king his underwear
Premise/plot: This board book stars knights in a royal castle. But does it also star dragons?! Yes, yes it does!

My thoughts: I like it. I'm not sure I love, love, love it. (I don't there there is a bit of punctuation in the entire book.) I think rhyming works for the most part. The story was fun.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tigers and Tea with Toppy

Tigers and Tea with Toppy. Barbara Kerley. Illustrated by Matte Stephens. 2018. Scholastic. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Fridays are the best days of the week. That's when Rhoda begins her weekends with Grandpa Toppy!

Premise/plot: Rhoda's Grandpa Toppy is famous wildlife artist Charles R. Knight. Readers learn more about him and his life work through the eyes of his granddaughter.

My thoughts: This is a nonfiction picture book. It doesn't fall into a traditional narrative pattern for a picture book biography. Readers learn facts about Charles R. Knight sure enough, but not in traditional way. He may be a famous artist--muralist, illustrator, writer--but to Rhoda he is TOPPY. Toppy and Rhoda love to spend time together--at the museum, at the zoo, at the Plaza Hotel, at his house.

I liked it. I did. The narrative was a nice twist. I think sometimes we forget that famous people are first and foremost people--with families and traditions of their own. This is a very human story.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 3, 2018

Zola's Elephant

Zola's Elephant. Randall de Seve. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. 2018. [October 9]  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There's a new girl next door. Her name is Zola. I know because our mothers met this morning and decided we should be friends. But Zola already has a friend. I know because I saw the big box.

Premise/plot: In Zola's Elephant, a little girl's imagination gets carried away. She imagines that the girl next door, Zola, has an elephant. She imagines ALL the things Zola and her elephant are doing in their new home. Readers, however, know the truth. There is no elephant and Zola is lonely. Will she make a new friend?

My thoughts: I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I'm thinking DON'T TEASE ME WITH ELEPHANTS WHEN THERE ARE NO ELEPHANTS. If a book has the word 'Elephant' in the title and shows an elephant on the cover, I am going to expect an elephant. On the other hand, it is a nice enough book that celebrates friendship and the imagination.

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




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Freight Train

Freight Train. Donald Crews. 1978. 26 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

First sentence: A train runs across this track. Red caboose at the back. Orange tank car next. Yellow hopper car.

Premise/plot: Freight Train is a concept book teaching colors, a train-themed concept book teaching colors. It received a Caldecott Honor in 1979, I believe. If I had to guess the most memorized picture book ever, I bet it would be Freight Train or Goodnight Moon. What do you think it would be?

My thoughts: What's not to love about this children's classic? It wasn't the first train book, it certainly won't be the last. What is it about kids and trains?!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Millions of Cats

Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

Once upon a time there was a very old man and a very old woman. They lived in a nice clean house which had flowers all around it, except where the door was. But they couldn't be happy because they were so very lonely. 
"If we only had a cat!" sighed the very old woman. "A cat?" asked the very old man. "Yes, a sweet little fluffy cat," said the very old woman. "I will get you a cat, my dear," said the very old man.
And he set out over the hills to look for one. 

Millions of Cats is a Newbery Honor book from 1929.

Premise/Plot: A very old man and a very old woman long for a cat. The husband goes on a quest to bring back a "sweet little fluffy cat" to please them both. Is his quest successful? Yes. A little too successful. For in fact he finds

Cats here, cats there,
Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats,
Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats.
How is he ever to choose just ONE cat from so many?! Especially since as he picks up or pets each one he sees, he finds it to be the prettiest cat. He can't bring himself to leave any of the cats behind. But it isn't practical to bring home hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, and trillions of cats. You can probably guess what his wife's response will be! Surely, they can't keep them all. For better or worse, he lets the cats decide amongst themselves. One scrawny cat remains, but, it may be the best one of all.

My thoughts: I loved this one growing up. I loved the repetition. I thought it was a fun story. I didn't--at the time--take the man's conclusion that the trillions of cats ate each other up literally. Is the book violent? Perhaps. Perhaps not. See for yourself.  "They bit and scratched and clawed each other and made such a great noise that the very old man and the very old woman ran into the house as fast as they could. They did not like such quarreling." This one might pair well with Eugene Field's "The Duel." (The gingham dog and the calico cat).

Have you read Millions of Cats? Did you like it? love it? hate it?

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers