Monday, June 18, 2018

Farm Babies

Farm Babies. H.A. Rey. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Cluck, cluck, cluck!
Calls Mother Hen.
Help count her chicks
From one to ten.

Premise/plot: Farm Babies is a lift-the-flap book. It is neither a board book or a picture book--not properly. (The pages are thick but not board-book thick.) It is adapted from H.A. Rey's Where's My Baby?

Each spread shows a family. The rhyme tells a tiny bit about the family. Many are animal families, but not all.
Many piglets
Has Mother Pig.
Now they are little.
Soon they'll be big.
My thoughts: I liked this one!  I admit I am a bit partial to farm books for little ones!

Reading is a shared experience, especially with books like this one. Parents should treasure each and every moment of it. Lift-the-flap books are a great way for parents and little ones to interact with each other and with the book in hand.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 15, 2018

Whose House?

Whose House? H.A. Rey. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Here in this house
Lives something you know
That likes to go
And go and go!
Premise/plot: Whose House? is a lift-the-flap book. It isn't a proper board book or a proper picture book. It's an in-between book for parents to share with their curious little ones. (It is adapted from H.A. Rey's Anybody at Home?)

Each spread reveals another type of home. There is a rhyme asking little ones to guess whose home it is. The flap reveals the answer, of course. The clues are not to be found in the text--for the most part--but in the illustrations. (There are definite exceptions!)

My thoughts: Reading is a shared experience, especially with books like this one. Parents should treasure each and every moment of it. Lift-the-flap books are a great way for parents and little ones to interact with each other and with the book in hand.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Monkey Not Ready For Bedtime

Monkey: Not Ready for Bedtime. Marc Brown. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "It's time for bed, Monkey! Do you have your pj's on?" "Yes." "Did you brush your teeth?" "Yes." "Where is Mr. Fuzzy?" "Mr. Fuzzy is on be bed." But Monkey couldn't fall asleep.

Premise/plot: Night after night Monkey has trouble falling asleep. Can Monkey's big brother help his little brother out?

My thoughts: Monkey is the star of Marc Brown's new series. I believe this is the third book in the series. Other books include Monkey Not Ready for Baby and Monkey Not Ready for Kindergarten.

It was an okay book for me. I don't actively dislike Monkey and his family. It's more of a lack of feeling. Perhaps a lack of feeling might be called boredom. But I don't know that I care even enough to be bored by Monkey.

Since he's the star of a series, it would be nice if I could feel something toward him.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Antlered Ship

The Antlered Ship. Dashka Slater. Illustrated by Eric and Terry Fan. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world. He had so many questions. Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad? Why don't trees ever talk? How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?

Premise/plot: Marco is the fox-hero of The Antlered Ship. The book celebrates marveling or curiosity. Marco sets out with other animals on a quest for answers to his questions. All have their own individual reason for setting sail and heading off into the unknown. Marco hopes to find other foxes like him--philosophically inclined foxes that contemplate the meaning of the universe. The adventure has ups and downs--moments when Marco--and the others--question why they set sail in the first place. But Marco finds he LOVES the journey.

My thoughts: I like this one. I do like Marco. I appreciate his curiosity and his longing to find kindred spirits. I have never been inclined to go adventure-seeking myself. Curiosity is worth celebrating, it can lead you places for sure. While Marco was drawn to the sea, I'm drawn to libraries.

If you enjoy animal fantasy consider picking this one up!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ocean Meets Sky

Ocean Meets Sky. Terry and Eric Fan. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Finn lived by the sea, and the sea lived by him. "It's a good day for sailing," his grandfather would have said.

Premise/plot: On what would have been his grandfather's ninetieth birthday, a young boy dreams whimsically about the ocean meeting the sky. His grandfather was always telling stories about a magical place where the ocean met the sky.

My thoughts: If you love, love, love whimsical, fantastical books then Ocean Meets Sky might be a great fit for you and your little ones. If you prefer less whimsy and more reality, then maybe not so much. Most of this one is a boy's dream-journey to the place where the ocean meets the sky. If you're willing to dream with Finn, then you might enjoy the journey and be mesmerized by the detailed illustrations.

Ocean Meets Sky is not my kind of book, but it may be your kind of book. I wouldn't be surprised if it got some award love at some point for its illustrations.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cat Wishes

Cat Wishes. Calista Brill. Illustrated by Kenard Pak. 2018. [July] HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once in the windy wood, there was a hungry Cat.

Premise/plot: Cat Wishes reads like a fairy tale. A cat shows mercy to an animal--a snake of all things!--and receives three wishes in return. What will she wish for...and will her wishes come true?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! It was a lovely, sweet story. Cat may be skeptical that wishes are real, but readers probably won't be.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 8, 2018

Board book: I'm a Mail Carrier

Tinyville Town: I'm A Mail Carrier. Brian Biggs. 2018. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Whatever the weather, I have a job to do. I get things where they're supposed to go.

Premise/plot: I'm a Mail Carrier is one of the books in Brian Biggs'  Tinyville Town series. The series includes picture and board books. Other books in the series include Tinyville Town: Gets To Work!, Tinyville Town: I'm a Librarian, Tinyville Town: I'm a Firefighter, Tinyville Town: I'm a Veterinarian, Tinyville Town: I'm a Police Officer, Tinyville Town: Time for School.

This one is a board book. It introduces little ones to the job of mail carrier, obviously. She is a hard worker! Perhaps because she lives in Tinyville Town, she does everything herself.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. My absolute favorite in the series is I'm a Librarian. But this one finds a way to work books into it as well! The Mail Carrier carries packages, and one of those packages is a book.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Just a Secret

Just A Secret. Gina and Mercer Mayer. 2001. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I asked Dad to help me make something. It was special. It was a secret.

Premise/plot: Little Critter has a secret to keep--an actual secret to hide. Can he keep it secret? Can he keep it hidden? Or will he hide it a little too well?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It was sweet; it was sweeter than I was expecting from Little Critter. Little Critter often makes me laugh.. 

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Just A Mess

Just A Mess. Mercer Mayer. 1987. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Today I couldn't find my baseball mitt. I looked in my tree house. I looked under the back steps. I asked Mom if she had seen it. She said I should try my room. I never thought to look there. What a mess!

Premise/plot: Little Critter has a messy room. (Anyone caught by surprise there?!) Since he can't get anyone to help him clean his room, he decides to do it for himself...in a way that only Little Critter can. (Well, I take that back. Little Critter's technique isn't all that original.) Will he find his baseball mitt?

My thoughts: Perhaps with the exception of Ramona Quimby (did she have a messy room too?) the character I most identified with as a child was LITTLE CRITTER. I love, love, love, love, crazy love Mercer Mayer's Little Critter.
The rest of the mess could fit under my bed. So I put it there. Then I made the bed. Won't Mom be pleased. 
 Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Me Too!

Me Too! Mercer Mayer. 1983. 23 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: When my little sister saw me riding my skateboard, she said...Me Too! Then I had to help her ride. I had a paper airplane that I made myself. But my little sister saw it and said...Me Too! Then she threw it in a tree.

Premise/plot: Little Critter HATES to hear his little sister say "Me Too!" Will I have to SHARE everything? Can he never have a moments peace?

My thoughts: I like this one. I don't know that it's my absolute all-time favorite in the Little Critter series. (Do most people have an ongoing ranked list of Little Critter books in mind?) But I really enjoy it. I love Little Critter. And I think he is a good big brother. And as the end of the book shows, she is a good little sister too.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 4, 2018

Just Go To Bed

Just Go To Bed. Mercer Mayer. 1983. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I'm a cowboy and I round up cows. I can lasso anything. Dad says..."It's time for the cowboy to come inside and get ready for bed."

Premise/plot: Will Little Critter go to bed willingly?! Or will his dad have to get super-creative and match the wits of his son?!

My thoughts: I love, love, love, love, SUPER love Little Critter. I grew up on Little Critter books. I'm not sure if I love Little Critter because I grew up with him, or if regardless of when I met him I would see myself. 

Quotes:
I'm a space cadet and I zoom to the moon. I capture a robot with my ray gun. Dad says..."This giant robot has captured the space cadet and is going to put him in the bathtub right now."
I'm a sea monster attacking a ship. Dad says, "It's time for the sea monster to have a snack."
I'm a zookeeper feeding my hungry animals. Dad says..."Feeding time is over. Here are the zookeeper's pajamas." 
Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 1, 2018

Board book: Who?

Who? A Celebration of Babies. Robie Harris. Illustrated by Natascha Rosenberg. 2018. Abrams. 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Who's that? A baby! Sweet baby! Nice baby! That's who! Who? Who's that? Dada! That's who! Who's that? Baby and Dada! That's who!

Premise/plot: This one is subtitled a CELEBRATION of babies. The book opens with A BABY and closes with BABIES. Whether singular or plural babies are SWEET and NICE. There is a LOT of repetition in this one. (I'm not just talking about the excessive amounts of exclamation points.) This one is all about answering the question WHO? It covers the many WHOs in a baby's life: Mama, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Kitty, Doggie, etc.

My thoughts: I liked it. It isn't the story of one baby in one family. It is the story of babies and families everywhere. A nice diverse offering for all little ones to enjoy.

I definitely liked it. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Board book: I Love Old MacDonald's Farm

I Love Old MacDonald's Farm. Sandra Magsamen. 2018. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O! With a moo-moo here and a hug-hug there. Here a moo there a moo. Everywhere a hug-hug. Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O!

Premise/plot: Sandra Magsamen's adaptation is VERY affectionate. All the animals take part in the song, but, the song became a lot more cuddly.

My thoughts: In this adaptation Magsamen has taken away some of the familiar words and added in nice cozy words: hugging, kissing, tickling, etc.

Songs are made to be adapted--freely adapted. Perhaps no song is more adaptable than the old classic Old MacDonald Had A Farm. Old MacDonald can have a LOT of different stuff on his farm depending on your child's interests of the moment. (Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O! And on that farm he had an ALLIGATOR, E-I-E-I-O! With an [snapping arm motion] bite, bite here and a bite, bite there, everywhere a bite, bite...etc.)

I liked this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 28, 2018

Board book: Beach Day

Beach Day. Karen Roosa. Illustrated by Maggie Smith. 2001/2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 30 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Waves roar,
Rush, and soar!
Rolling, crashing
To the shore.
Premise/plot: Beach Day was originally published as a hardcover picture book in 2001. It is newly reprinted in board book format. This board book CELEBRATES a fun day at the beach--a fun day OUTDOORS--and the celebration is ALL VERSE.

My thoughts: Those that know me know that I can be harsh when it comes to books written in rhyme. I have nothing but praise to offer for Karen Roosa's Beach Day. Her rhymes go above and beyond my expectations or standards. Lovely rhythm and rhyme throughout. Everything feels NATURAL and never forced.
Waves lapping,
Babies napping.
On the water
Sails are snapping.
Launch a boat,
Help Father float,
Build a castle
With a moat.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Little Robot Alone

Little Robot Alone. Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Little Robot lived in a white house on a green hill by a blue pond.

Premise/plot: Little Robot is lonely. Can Little Robot make himself a friend so he won't be lonely?

My thoughts: I am sure there will be plenty of readers--of all ages--who will not overthink Little Robot Alone. I can at times overthink picture books. For example, who made Little Robot? Somebody had to have made him? Where is his creator? He is obviously self-aware and intelligent. He is contemplative. He has feelings. YET. He is a machine. He needs to charge his battery and take care of his tracks. SO WHY DOES HE EAT OATMEAL?! WHERE COULD THE OATMEAL POSSIBLY GO? DOES THIS MEAN THE LITTLE ROBOT USES THE BATHROOM? Once the questions started, I couldn't stop them.

The friend Little Robot creates is a Little Dog--a robotic dog. One of the first things Little Dog does is LICK his creator. How does a robot lick? And how does a robot feel the lick? The licking makes no sense whatsoever.

The book is supposed to be a book celebrating FRIENDSHIP. And also creativity, I think. I hope readers will be able to appreciate that simple message.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ten Magic Butterflies

Ten Magic Butterflies. Danica McKellar. Illustrated by Jennifer Bricking. 2018. Random House.  40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there were 10 flower friends. Were they always happy? Well that depends...

Premise/plot: Ten (talking) flowers become dissatisfied with their life and dream of flying like the fairies they see at night. One flower speaks up and asks the fairy for a bit of magic. The fairy grants the wish: the flower becomes a butterfly. One by one flowers ask and receive the same wish. But will they be happier as butterflies?

My thoughts: This book is ALL about the math. The story is ALL about introducing the math facts:
1+9=10, 2+8=10, 3+7=10, 4+6=10, 5+5=10, 6+4=10, 7+3=10, 8+2=10, 9+1=10. True, she speeds up the process after 5+5 by just saying "Yes, one by one they filled the sky as the sweet little fairy helped each to fly." But essentially this is about the different ways you can get to ten. TOLD IN RHYME.

Would I be more forgiving if it wasn't told in rhyme? Probably. You see, I am a stubborn person who believes that rhyme and rhythm should go together...always, no exception. You can have rhythm without rhyme perhaps. But without rhythm, your rhyme is missing something vital. It's a pretender. And this book lacks rhythm.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Board book: Dr. Seuss's 100 First Words

Dr. Seuss's 100 First Words. Dr. Seuss Enterprises. 2018. Random House. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: Dr. Seuss's 100 First Words is a board book word book for little ones. It is an over-sized board book with sixteen pages. Each page has a theme: wild animals, farm animals, mealtime, food, outside, home, myself, toys, colors, things that go, clothes, pets, bathtime and bedtime. Each page is full of words and Seuss's illustrations.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I liked the illustrations. (Some I loved!) I liked the bright, bold colors. I liked the sturdy pages. Little Cats A, B, and C star in this one. I do wish that all three cats appeared on each two-page spread. Often two of the cats appear. It may be completely ridiculous, but why must one be lonely? Why choose Little Cats A, B, and C instead of Thing 1 and Thing 2 if only two were ever going to appear at the same time?!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thin Ice

Thin Ice. Jerrold Beim. Illustrated by Louis Darling. 1956. 46 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Lee and his brother Bobby went to school in the morning. Bobby was in the kindergarten and Lee was in the second grade. Lee liked everything about school except--reading!

Premise/plot: Lee struggles with his reading. It is his least favorite subject in school. Honestly, he's not sure what is all that great about reading. But he changes his mind after a close call on the skating pond. He reads the sign: KEEP OFF! THIN ICE! in time to warn his younger brother, Bobby.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I bought it at a local charity shop. The first thing I noticed were the illustrations by Louis Darling. (I find vintage illustrations hard to resist.) The illustrations alternate between black and white and color: three colors to be precise: blue, red, and maroon. My favorite illustration is the HUGE smile on Lee's face when he finally 'gets' reading and is able to read a page in front of his reading group.

The story itself is about a boy who struggles with reading. The book provides a snapshot of how reading was taught in the 1950s.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Dog With Nice Ears Featuring Charlie and Lola

A Dog with Nice Ears (Charlie and Lola) Lauren Child. 2018. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I have this little sister, Lola. She is small and very funny. At the moment, all Lola can talk about is dogs. She says she would like one more than anything you could ever think of. "More than a squirrel or an actual fox," she says.

Premise/plot: In anticipation of a trip to a pet shop, Lola tells CHARLIE all the things she's looking for in a dog. She's very specific in what she wants. Her conversations with Charlie do reveal just how funny she can be.
Lola says, "It MUST have nice ears because EARS are important. You hold your glasses on with your ears." I say, "But, Lola, a dog wouldn't NEED glasses." "How do you know?" she says. I say, "Have you ever seen a dog wearing glasses?" She says, "No, BUT they probably only wear them for reading."
My thoughts: I do love Charlie and Lola. In this picture book, they talk about their ideal pet. Can Lola be trusted to pick out the best dog?! Can Lola be trusted to do anything in an ordinary way?!

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




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hans in Luck: Seven Stories by the Brothers Grimm

Hans in Luck: Seven Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Two are retold by Felix Hoffman. Illustrated by Felix Hoffman. 2017. NorthSouth books. 256 pages.

Premise/plot: Hans In Luck is a fairy tale collection featuring seven previously published picture books written and illustrated by Felix Hoffman. Rapunzel was originally published in 1949. The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids was originally published in 1957. Sleeping Beauty was originally published in 1959. The Seven Ravens was originally published in 1962. King Thrushbeard was originally published in 1969. Tom Thumb was originally published in 1972. Hans in Luck was originally published in 1975. Felix Hoffman. The two stories retold by Hoffman are Rapunzel and Hans In Luck.

Felix Hoffman was one of Switzerland's most important children's book illustrators of the twentieth century. The book includes a brief biography and afterword which helps place his work in context. 

My thoughts: I enjoyed reading this collection. My favorite story was Hans in Luck. My next favorite story was probably The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. I have so many memories of my mom retelling The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. (She also does an awesome Three Billy Goats Gruff.) I think the only story I wasn't familiar with was King Thrushbeard. It reminded me of The Taming of the Shrew--for better or worse.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

People Don't Bite People

People Don't Bite People. Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Molly Schaar Idle. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It's good to bite a carrot.
It's good to bite a steak.
It's BAD to bite your sister!
She's not a piece of cake.

Premise/plot: The title says it all. This rhyming picture book has a message--an agenda--one that we can all get behind. People don't bite people. People can and should use words to express their feelings. People can and should practice self-control.

My thoughts: I liked this one. It is thorough leaving no room for doubt. Brothers. Sisters. Mothers. Fathers. Friends. People. I liked the rhyming for the most part. Some of the rhymes were just fun!
People don't bite people.
You're not a zombie, dude!
A friend will never bite a friend.
Biting is for food!
People don't bite people!
It really isn't right.
But if their head is gingerbread....
go on and take a bite!
Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Camp Panda

Camp Panda. Catherine Thimmesh. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Lumbering down the grassy mountainside in southwestern China--being careful not to slip--is a giant panda teddy bear.

Premise/plot: This one is subtitled: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild. The book is a cautious celebration of a new re-introduction program in China. It's a program designed to reintroduce giant pandas back into the wild--giant pandas born in captivity. The idea is that humans have largely contributed to the plight of the giant panda--both directly, indirectly. It is up to humans to come up with a solution. Or perhaps I should rephrase that to be a part of the solution. Researchers have to think long-term and big-picture. Researchers have to take things slowly--not rush the process. Researchers have to be adaptable and be willing to change as they go.

One aspect of this new program is that baby pandas never see their human caregivers. Humans wear panda costumes when interacting with the pandas. Another aspect is that it is all about providing an environment where baby pandas can learn, can grow, can become more and more independent in taking care of all their own needs.
It's crucial that pandas in the release program not become acclimated to humans, for several reasons. First, it trains the cubs not to depend on humans providing for them. Instead it encourages and reinforces the cubs' natural behaviors in seeking out their own food, water, and shelter. Second, it encourages a healthy fear of humans--discouraging the cubs from wandering onto farms and being shot by farmers protecting their livelihoods. Fear of humans also sends the pandas scurrying for cover should people approach them--critical for avoiding poachers who are illegally out to kill them. (27)
My thoughts: The book isn't a comfy-cozy read all about happy-happy success stories regardless of the reality. Like most nature shows, this one is realistic. It is neither happy-happy or bleakity-bleak.

The audience, I believe, would be those in elementary and/or middle school.

The photographs, on the other hand, would be appealing for all ages.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Board book: Mon Petit Busy Day

Mon Petit Busy Day. Annette Tamarkin. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Can you draw lines and curves? Can you open the backpack and find the matching pairs? Can you name the colors?

Premise/plot: This oversized board book is a concept book offering interactive learning opportunities with each page. Most of these interactions are through lift-the-flaps. (But not all! There are also things to slide.) For example, the "backpack" at the start of the page offers a lift-the-flap memory game. Varied concepts are taught--or explored in the pages. Shapes. Colors. Numbers. The last page features a clock with hands you can turn.

My thoughts: This board book is for older younger readers. This is not for those who still chew, nibble, or drool on books. This is also not for those who are rough on books. The book may be a board book, but ALL the flaps--all the "bells and whistles" as my mom would say--are mere paper in comparison. The flaps could easily rip and tear. The book is also one that is best shared one on one between adult-and-child.

I liked aspects of this one. But not all. On the "Can you name the colors?" page there are dollops of "paint." Lift the flaps and color names are revealed. I'd like to know who thought it was a good idea to print black on brown or black on dark purple. (The dark blue was also difficult to read though not as bad as the brown.)




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Goodbye Brings Hello

Goodbye Brings Hello. Dianne White. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello.

Premise/plot: This book captures the goodbye and hello nature of childhood, of this difficult yet glorious thing called GROWING UP. 

Each two page spread shows a goodbye and a hello. (Or in some cases a hello and a goodbye.)
Loop the laces. Knot the bows.
So long,
Velcro-covered toes.
Chunky crayons. Big designs.
Hello, letters on the lines.
My thoughts: I found the book DELIGHTFUL. I did. I loved it cover to cover. I loved the writing; I loved the rhythm and rhyme of it. It is HARD to get right, and Dianne White does it well. I loved the snapshots we get--the images of childhood. I also loved the illustrations. They complement the text so well! One of my favorites shows that last years' winter clothes may be too tight--but they are JUST RIGHT for the snow man.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Lion Is A Lion

A Lion is a Lion. Polly Dunbar. 2018. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is a lion. Fierce, isn't he? Too fierce for you? Well...
Is a lion still a lion if...he wears a hat? And is a lion still a lion if...he carries an umbrella, too?
Is a lion still a lion if...he skips down the street singing "Hoobie-doobie-doo"? And then...

Premise/plot: Is this lion to be trusted?! Is a lion ALWAYS a lion no matter what?! Will these two children be foolish enough to feel SAFE?

My thoughts: A Lion is a Lion is a fun, silly, and a joy to read aloud. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the rewinding of the story as the children say NO, NO, NO. I especially loved the patterning.

The story lends itself to retelling in my opinion. Children could easily write their own versions...starring a lion...or any other animal. Is a lion still a lion if.... there are SO many possibilities that little ones can create.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 11, 2018

Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday

Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday. Candice Ransom. Illustrated by Christine Grove. 2018. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Tomorrow is Amanda Panda's birthday. She will be the first one in Ms. Lemon's kindergarten to have a birthday. That makes her special. And she will be the first one in her class to be six years old. That makes her famous. She can't wait to invite her friends to her party on Saturday. The theme is School Bus.

Premise/plot: Amanda Panda's excitement soon turns to bitter disappointment when she learns that Bitsy's birthday is today--while hers is tomorrow. Bitsy will be the first to have a birthday, the first to turn six. As if that wasn't enough DRAMA (for a nearly-six-year-old) to handle, Bitsy's birthday party conflicts with her own birthday party that Saturday. NOTHING is going right. Can these two friends work out their differences? Can this friendship be saved?

My thoughts: I enjoyed the first book. I did. But I really LOVED this one. It was practically perfect in every way. Bitsy and Amanda Panda are WONDERFUL characters. I love and adore them both.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten. Candice Ransom. Illustrated by Christine Grove. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Amanda Panda's favorite color is brown. She wants to be a school bus driver when she grows up. She can run really fast, but only downhill. And she cannot wait to start kindergarten.

Premise/plot: Amanda has a plan for how to have a GREAT first day of school. But things don't go according to her plan. And when they don't she feels like QUITTING. Can this first day be saved--be redeemed?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the school setting and the friendship theme. Amanda is Amanda and Bitsy is Bitsy. The two girls are SO different from one another. Can they find a way to get along? Would having to be friends with Bitsy really be THE END OF THE WORLD?!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Board book: Mary Poppins ABC

Mary Poppins ABC Board Book. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1962/2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A is for Anxious Andrew, Mrs. Lark's dog, who loves Almonds and Apple pie.
B is for Admiral Boom in his Blue coat, feeding the Birds with the Bird Woman.
C is for Mary Poppins' Carpet bag and eating Cherries, but Chew Carefully so the Cherry pits don't Crack your teeth!
D is for a Disastrous Dinner, but the roast Duck, Dumplings, and Dates for Dessert are Delicious!

Premise/plot: Mary Poppins ABC has been newly reprinted in a board book format. Or soon will be. It releases in June 2018.

My thoughts: This one is for for fans of Mary Poppins. In particular fans of the book series. It was originally published BEFORE the Disney movie was released in 1964. The books and the movie are quite different--delightfully different. The new movie will release in December. There is still plenty of time to read the books before it is released. (HMH has released four of the books in the series: Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens the Door, and Mary Poppins in the Park.)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Great Chicken Escape

The Great Chicken Escape. Nikki McClure. 2018. Cameron Kids. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good Morning, Chickens.

Premise/plot: The Great Chicken Escape is inspired by true events. The author while living with 'a small group of monastics on Spruce Island, Alaska' witnesses the great escape. One day the chickens escaped their coop. The author note reads,
"Some of the more timid were caught, but a rogue group successfully eluded the nuns. The nuns decided that there was no real danger, only the possibility of a great chicken adventure. They let the chickens roam, enjoying the freedom of the forest. There was no worry, for the chickens would return home to roost; after all, they are chickens." 
The illustrations are black and white.

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. It isn't my absolute favorite picture book about chickens. (There are believe it or not a lot of great books starring chickens!) But the illustrations are great. The text is sparse and simple. But the story is fun nonetheless.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Red

Red by Jed Alexander. 2018. Cameron Kids. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: A little girl in a red hood and cape is walking in the woods. Could she be on the way to her Grandma's house? Perhaps. She is going somewhere that is for sure--basket in hand. She is not alone in the woods.

Red is a wordless picture book. The story is revealed solely through the black, white, and red illustrations.

My thoughts: I rarely love, love, love wordless picture books. I need words. I hate to admit it, but I do. It is a lot harder for me to "read" illustrations than to read words. Perhaps it should be the opposite in a logical world.

The illustrations. I didn't love them. I like the idea of loving vintage-inspired illustrations. I like the idea of loving the simplicity and boldness of the black, white, and red. I think I liked the backgrounds better than the illustrations of the people and the animals.

In this picture book, a little girl is on her way to her own surprise birthday party. The wolf in the woods is not an enemy, but a DISTRACTION. His goal seems to be to keep the girl from noticing all the other animals on the way to the party. The animals are carrying presents, party decorations, balloons, a CAKE. Will she be SURPRISED?

Text: 0 of 0
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 3 out of 5

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 7, 2018

Board book: Will Sheep Sleep?

Will Sheep Sleep? Hilary Leung. 2018. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Sheep has been playing all day, and now he is tired...but will Sheep sleep?

Premise/plot: Will Sheep EVER fall asleep? That is the all-important question in this adorable new board book by Hilary Leung.

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the story of this one. A book can use simple words and still tell a good, entertaining story. This story is told in a question-answer format. And a large part of the story is communicated not with words but by the illustrations.
Will brushing his teeth help Sheep sleep?
No.
 The illustrations show Sheep and his friend sword-fighting with their toothbrushes.

Will a night-light help Sheep sleep?
No.
The illustrations show Sleep and his friend playing shadow-puppets.

I definitely liked the ending! Sheep falls asleep counting sheep. (His friends dress up as sheep!)


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Composer is Dead

The Composer is Dead. Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Carson Ellis. Music by Nathaniel Stookey. 2009. HarperCollins. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The composer is dead. "Composer" is a word which here means "a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play." This is called composing. But last night, the Composer was not muttering. He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing. This is called decomposing.

Premise/plot: An investigator has been called in to investigate the 'mysterious' death of the composer. WHO murdered the composer and why? Is the murderer to be found in the strings? the brass? the woodwinds? the percussion section?

"I swear on my own intelligence and good looks; I will solve this terrible crime against humanity and/or classical music."

My thoughts: I love, love, LOVE this one. I love the strong narrative voice. The writing is fun and clever. The text is LIVELY.
The Violins answered first, of course. The violin section is divided into the First Violins, who have the trickier parts to play, and the Second Violins, who are more fun at parties. "We were performing a waltz," said the Violins. We played graceful melodies so the ladies and gentlemen could spin around and around and around until they felt dizzy and somewhat nauseous. This kept us busy all night. AHA the Inspector cried, making a note in his notebook. "Perhaps you murdered the Composer for making you play so much." "Don't be ridiculous!" the Violins said. "Violins are the stars of any orchestra. If we killed the Composer, we would have to find work at square dances or in romantic restaurants."  
It is packed with plenty of information about orchestras. Yet at its heart is a dramatic--perhaps melodramatic--STORY.

I love the audio book included with the book. Together the music and the book create a lovely and dark atmosphere. It is an invitation to play and create.

I also love that it's a MYSTERY. So many detective/mystery stereotypes are in play in the narrative. If you love that genre then this one is just giddy-making.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Music: 5 out of 5
Total: 13 out of 15

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 4, 2018

Board book: Star Wars Block

Star Wars Block: Over 100 Words Ever Fan Should Know. Lucasfilm Ltd. Illustrations by Peskimo. 2018. Abrams. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an epic story began that has inspired generations young and old.

Premise/plot: Abrams has published several BLOCK books in recent years, this is their most recent offering, and it is Star Wars themed.

It is decidedly not a story book. It is a word book. But that's not to say the words aren't arranged in a logical order that allows a story to unfold. It does include characters--words--from all the Star Wars films to date.

My thoughts: I would recommend this one to Star Wars fans of all ages. I'm not sure it's really for little ones--toddlers who chew books. But I think it's a book that can be enjoyed by multiple age groups. The illustrations are fun.



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Relatives Came

The Relatives Came. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. 1985. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was in the summer of the year when the relatives came. They came up from Virginia. They left when their grapes were nearly purple enough to pick, but not quite.

Premise/plot: The Relatives Came is a celebration of family, and, in part a celebration of summer. In this picture book, relatives come to visit, come to stay for a few weeks of FUN and LAUGHTER.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one very much. It's a joyous book: a celebration of the good life.
Then it was hugging time. Talk about hugging! Those relatives just passed us all around their car, pulling us against their wrinkled Virginia clothes, crying sometimes. They hugged us for hours. Then it was into the house and so much laughing and shining faces and hugging in the doorways. You'd have to go through at least four different hugs to get from the kitchen to the front room. Those relatives!
Rylant is a wonderful author. The Relatives Came earned a Caldecott Honor. The illustrations are well worth a closer look. So much detail squeezed in that adds to the narrative.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Amy the Red Panda Is Writing the Best Story in the World

Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World. Colleen AF Venable. Illustrated by Ruth Chan. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Ready for the story? Once upon a time, there was a huge dragon who...

Premise/plot: Letters are falling from the sky again in Venable's newest book! If you read and enjoyed Mervin the Sloth is About to Do The Best Thing in the World, then definitely seek out Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World. The premise is much the same. Amy, our heroine, is telling a story. As letters--and words--begin to fall from the sky their friends begin to get involved--some would say over-involved--in the storytelling process. Will Amy EVER finish telling Mervin a story?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I think Red Pandas are adorable. If you do too, then you might want to read this one. This is definitely a friendship themed story. I liked the ending!

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



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Board book: Will Bear Share?

Will Bear Share? Hilary Leung. 2018. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Bear has a lot to give...but will she share?

Premise/plot: Will Bear Share? is an adorable board book about sharing. The text is simple, but the story is entertaining. You don't need a lot of words to tell a good story. You just need the right words and the right illustrations!

My thoughts: This book is not a 'preachy' book on how you should share every single thing all the time. Some things are for sharing; some things are NOT for sharing. It's good to share an umbrella with a friend. It is NOT good to share a toothbrush with a friend.

I love the way this story unfolds page by page. I found the story entertaining. I love the ending!!!

If there's one thing I didn't like about this one, however, it is that the pages are a little on the thin side and can stick together making it difficult to turn the pages. If you're not paying attention to the text--to the story--you can skip over some pages.

But for the most part, I really enjoyed this one!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, April 27, 2018

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. 2009. Disney. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends. This is the story of Snow White.

Premise/plot: Cynthia Rylant beautifully retells the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It feels silly--beyond silly--to summarize the plot of so familiar a tale. Snow White is forced to take flight after her wicked stepmother tries to have her killed. She finds refuge--even happiness--in the home of the seven dwarfs. She loves them; they love her. But when the magic mirror reveals Snow White is still alive, well, her life is in danger once more. Will the queen's jealousy ever end? Will Snow White get her happily ever ending?

 My thoughts: I LOVED this one. I loved the writing. Rylant did a beautiful job with the story.
But those with an evil heart seem to have a talent for destroying anything beautiful which is about to bloom. So it was that one day the Queen consulted the Magic Mirror, and Snow White's life was forever changed.
 The dwarfs went inside and found Snow White asleep. When she awoke, Snow White told them her story. By the end of the telling, they loved her. How could they not? The Dwarfs had not known gentleness and beauty for a very long time.
Many stories in life have a happy ending, and this is one of them.
I also loved the illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren. Tenggren worked at Disney from 1936 to 1939. The films he worked on include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Bambi. But he didn't just work at Disney. He illustrated a LOT of children's books. Books such as The Poky Little Puppy, The Shy Little Kitten, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, Bedtime Stories, Farm Stories, and King Arthur and the Knights Around the Round Table. You can read more about his work here: http://www.gustaftenggren.com/tenggren/default.asp

I didn't grow up watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It wasn't released on VHS until I was in high school. (The Disney Wiki says October 1994. That sounds about right!) But I did grow up listening to the soundtrack on record. I do have favorites. I love and adore the Silly Song and the Dwarf's Washing Song. And then there's One Song.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You. Joan Walsh Anglund. 1958/2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A friend is someone who likes you. It can be a boy... It can be a girl... or a cat... or a dog... or even a white mouse.

Premise/plot: A Friend is Someone who Likes You was originally published in 1958. It was recently republished in a teeny-tiny size. The theme is friendship. The opening pages keep it quite simple, but, as the book progresses so does its complexity.

My thoughts: I liked it. The illustrations are sweet. The theme is sweet as well. It doesn't say everything there is to say on the subject of friendship. But what it does say is true enough. I have never found a special friend in the wind, a tree, or a brook. But I can easily imagine Anne Shirley doing so! My friends were mainly BOOKS. This little book doesn't include books as potential friends. But I forgive it that slight sin!

Last sentence: But everyone...everyone in the whole world has at least one friend. Where did you find yours?

Two of my closest, dearest friends were "found" because of a mutual love of books. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mr. Putter and Tabby See The Stars

Mr. Putter and Tabby See The Stars (#16) Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 2007. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, loved to sleep. They could sleep anywhere. They slept in chairs, in swings, in cars, in tubs, and sometimes in the laundry room. Mr. Putter and Tabby also slept in a bed. Of course, most of the time, sleeping in a bed was just fine. Mr. Putter plumped his pillows. Tabby squished hers. And then they slept like logs. But one night, one of the logs could not sleep.

Premise/plot: Mr. Putter is finding it absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to sleep. Why is he struggling to sleep?! Perhaps because he had WAY too many jelly rolls at Mrs. Teaberry's house. How many is too many?! Well, I think we can one and all agree that TWENTY-ONE pineapple jelly rolls are too many for any person to consume at a time!!!!!

Knowing that he can't sleep, Mr. Putter decides to go for a walk outside--with his cat, Tabby--to enjoy the stars. Maybe his stomach will settle after a little exercise!

My thoughts: I LOVE these characters so much!!!! This early chapter series is the best of the best! This neighborhood stroll is just LOVELY.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mr. Putter Makes a Wish

Mr. Putter & Tabby Make a Wish (Mr. Putter & Tabby #14). Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 2005. HMH. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a beautiful morning. Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, were eating raisin crumpets and apple jam and reading the morning paper. Mr. Putter looked at the date of the paper: October 2. "Good heavens, Tabby!" said Mr. Putter. "It's my birthday!"

Premise/plot: It is Mr. Putter's birthday. At first he tries to be practical and sensible. He is much too old to want to CELEBRATE his birthday. He's "too old" for balloons and cakes and presents. Isn't he? But the more he thinks about birthdays gone by, the more he wants to celebrate THIS ONE. Perhaps a little celebratory tea with his neighbor Mrs. Teaberry would be just the thing...

My thoughts: I love, love, love Mr. Putter and Tabby. In this one, readers get another chance to glimpse a YOUNG Mr. Putter--with his adorable red hair. Readers also get to see Mr. Putter struggling with waiting patiently. I think everyone can relate to that! Mr. Putter has to wait and wait and wait and wait for Mrs. Teaberry to come over. Though readers might suspect that she's busy planning something special for his birthday, something that takes TIME.

This one was a JOY to read.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Case of the Troublesome Turtle

The Case of the Troublesome Turtle. (High Rise Private Eyes #4) Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2001. 47 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Bunny enjoyed painting on Sundays. "Why don't you paint me?" asked Jack. "Because you won't sit still," said Bunny. "Yes, I will," said Jack. "No, you won't," said Bunny.

Premise/plot: Bunny and Jack have a new case to solve. Someone is stealing balloons from Mr. Paris' toy store. Can these two detectives figure out who or why? Often with these two they begin by focusing on the why to figure out the who. Why would anyone want to steal green and yellow balloons? Why are the balloons only stolen on Friday nights?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It may be my favorite of the series. I'm not sure if kids enjoy the banter between Bunny and Jack as much as I do. I don't always love it. In some books it can be more annoying than amusing. But this one opens with Bunny painting a portrait of Jack. That illustration is hilarious!

I believe I've now read all the books in the series.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, April 20, 2018

When I Was Young In the Mountains

When I Was Young in the Mountains. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Diane Goode. 1982. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When I was young in the mountains, Grandfather came home in the evening covered with the black dust of a coal mine. Only his lips were clean, and he used them to kiss the top of my head. When I was young in the mountains, Grandmother spread the table with hot corn bread, pinto beans, and friend okra. Later, in the middle of the night, she walked through the grass with me to the johnny-house and held my hand in the dark. I promised never to eat more than one serving of okra again.

Premise/plot: When I Was Young in the Mountains was Cynthia Rylant's first book. It would not be her last. It was only the beginning of a LONG career. Perhaps it is fitting--RIGHT--that her career began where she began--in the mountains of West Virginia. The book--beautifully, almost poetically--recounts her childhood memories. She was raised by her grandparents. Each page begins, "When I was young in the mountains..."

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I love it for the text. I should mention that it earned a Caldecott Honor in 1983. And the illustrations are nice enough. But it is the text itself that practically sings: a tribute to all things beautiful, simple, and true.
When I was young in the mountains, we went to church in the schoolhouse on Sundays, and sometimes walked with the congregation through the cow pasture to the dark swimming hole, for baptisms. My cousin Peter was laid back into the water, and his white shirt stuck to him, and my Grandmother cried.
When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough. 
 Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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