Friday, July 20, 2018

Groovy Joe: If You're Groovy and You Know It

Groovy Joe: If You're Groovy and You Know It. Eric Litwin. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2018. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If you're groovy and you know it greet the day!

Premise/plot: This picture book is part of the Groovy Joe series by Eric Litwin. It is a play on the classic song, "If You're Happy And You Know It." The picture book has a lot of "verses" to sing covering Groovy Joe's entire day.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. But I certainly enjoyed it. I like the illustrations. The song was cute.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Board book: Let's Go, Rescue Trucks

Let's Go, Rescue Trucks! Scholastic. 2018. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: My lights flash bright red and blue. Helping out is what I do! I am a police car. Make my wheels spin. Let the rescue begin!

Premise/plot: Little ones "meet" different types of rescue trucks in this rhyming novelty board book. The rescue trucks are a police car, an ambulance, tow truck, lifeguard truck, fire truck, snow plow.

My thoughts: All you really need to know is that there are spinning wheels that you can spin from any page--same wheels, different trucks. They make a delightful clackety noise too.




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Peter & Ernesto

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths. Graham Annable. 2018. First Second. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Rabbit. Good one. Oh! Bear! Oooo! Scary! You finish the hibiscus, Ernesto! Thanks, Peter!

Premise/plot: Peter and Ernesto star in this graphic novel for young readers. Peter and Ernesto may both be sloths but the similarities end there. Ernesto is ADVENTUROUS, BRAVE, CURIOUS, DARING. Peter is, well, perfectly content to stay in his one tree and watch the same piece of sky every day. He doesn't want adventure. He fears nearly everything that unfamiliar to him. One day Ernesto decided to leave Peter and go on a BIG adventure. The story follows both Ernesto and Peter.

Peter can't escape adventure after Ernesto leaves the tree. There is something that Peter fears worse than leaving the comfort of his own home, and that is the idea that something terrible could happen to Ernesto. Peter MUST save Ernesto and bring him back home. The idea of SAVING ERNESTO gives Peter courage to explore the world around him, meet new animals, make a few friends. Ernesto is busy making friends too. Everywhere he goes, Ernesto makes friends. His quest is quite extraordinary.

My thoughts:  I liked this one. I did. Peter is my kind of sloth. It was a fun story just right for little readers beginning to pick up graphic novels.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Today I Feel...An Alphabet of Feelings

Today I Feel...An Alphabet of Feelings. Madalena Moniz. 2017. Abrams. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A Adored
B Brilliant
C Curious
D Daring
E Excited
F Free
G Grumpy

Premise/plot: This picture book by Madalena Moniz is an alphabet book of feelings or emotions.

My thoughts: When you think concept books you might not naturally think of having or needing a concept book teaching emotions. But is there anything more complicated and at times overwhelming than one's emotions? This book isn't about coping or handling feelings. How to cope with anger or jealousy or loneliness or disappointment. BUT at the very least it can be a conversation starter. The book ends with the question, "How do YOU feel today?"

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 16, 2018

Board book: I Love To Gobble You Up

I Love To Gobble You Up. Sandra Magsamen. 2018. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If kisses were gobbles, I'd gobble you up! I'd gobble your nose...and your cute little toes.

Premise/plot: Do you have a little one you'd like to 'gobble' up with kisses?! This is a sweet and adorable novelty board book perfect to share with little ones.

My thoughts: I LOVED this one. It is sweet, adorable, and precious.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, July 13, 2018

How To Grow Happiness

How to Grow Happiness: A Jerome the Gnome Adventure. Kelly DiPucchio. Illustrated by Matt Kaufenberg. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Warble flew through the Garden of Wonder into Jerome's open window. "I brought you something special today," she chirped. Jerome examined the tiny black seed resting on the window ledge. "What kind of seed is that?" asked the curious inventor. Warble smiled proudly. "It's a seed of happiness!" she declared.

Premise/plot: Jerome the Gnome trades a bit of red yarn for a seed that promises happiness. But Jerome finds that happiness isn't what he gets--not at first. He feels confused, disappointed, frustrated, even angry--but not happy. But with a little advice from each of his friends will he succeed in growing happiness after all?

My thoughts:  How To Grow Happiness is an odd little picture book without a doubt. Jerome seems to know nothing about seeds. Seeds are meant to be planted in the ground, for example, not kept in a jar in the house, not placed on a rock in the sun, not thrown into a pond, etc. Unless the seed is planted in the ground--in the soil--it cannot, will not--grow. Seeds were meant to be buried. Because the seed is not the end but the beginning. A seed cannot be rushed. It grows in its own time and season according to its kind.

Jerome is blessed with friends. And when the seed does 'grow happiness' he shares that 'happiness' with his friends. Curious as to what happiness looks like? Think watermelon.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Itsy Bitsy School Bus

The Itsy Bitsy School Bus. Jeffrey Burton. Illustrated by Sanja Rescek. 2018. Little Simon. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The itsy bitsy school bus was ready for the day. Backpack was full with lunch and books, hooray! Dropped off at school, it was time to learn and play.

Premise/plot: This board book is meant to be sung to the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. It stars an 'itsy bitsy' school bus who is starting school. Will the bus like school or perhaps even love it?

My thoughts: I liked it okay. I did. It worked better as a song than I thought it would at first glance. When I get a book like this in the mail, my first response, if I'm honest, is to groan. It looks dinky. But not all books that look dinky are dinky.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cat Pals

Cat Pals. Pat Jacobs. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cats have lived with humans since the Ancient Egyptians. Cats were first welcomed into homes to keep snakes away and protect grain stores from rats and mice. Cats are predators, so they need to eat meat. Their bodies have evolved into expert hunting machines.

Premise/plot: This book boasts that it has 'everything you need to know about your best pal.' If it doesn't quite succeed it comes close.

This nonfiction book features a table of contents, a quiz and quiz answers, glossary and index.
  • Your cat from head to tail
  • Cat breeds
  • Choosing your cat
  • Cozy kitty
  • Settling in
  • Catering for kitty
  • Day-to-day care
  • Health and safety
  • Cat behavior
  • Communication
  • Training
  • Fun and Games
 My thoughts: I really liked this one. I loved all the pictures. I did. I found the kittens and cats to be ADORABLE. I thought it was packed with kid-friendly information. It was clearly written and well-organized. The layout is just fun. (I'm not sure nonfiction books were this well done when I was growing up.)

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Figure Skating

Figure Skating. Laura Hamilton Waxman. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The crowd sits on the edges of their seats. They watch a skater glide and spin. They cheer when she jumps off the ice. They gasp as she twirls through the air.

Premise/plot: Figure Skating is a nonfiction early chapter book for young readers. The chapters include, "Going for Gold," "Individual Skating," "Pairs Skating," "Ice Dancing," and "Cheer Them On."

My thoughts: This one covers the bare essentials of the sport only. One might think based on reading this book that the one and only figure skating event that takes place happens during the Winter Olympics every four years.

There is a figure skating season every single year. There are many international competitions each and every year. Not to mention the national competitions for each year. The Olympics are just the tip of the iceburg of what figure skating is. There is a journey involved in the sport.

Almost all--if not all--of the photographs illustrating this one are from the 2014 Olympics.   

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 9, 2018

Mr. Bo Finds A New Home

Mr. Bo Finds A New Home and A New Name. Timothy Battle. 2014. Tate Publishing. 30 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "I'm a pretty nice cat," Linus said to himself, "and very handsome as well." He had been living in a small cage at the cat adoption center for five long days.

Premise/plot: Will this cat find a new home? What kind of home will it be? Will his owners be nice? What name will they give him? The animal shelter has named him Linus. He does not like the name at all--it was the name of one of his brothers. He wants to be named his name. (Though readers never learn what his name was.)

My thoughts: Mr. Bo Finds A New Home and a New Name is the size of a traditional early reader or early chapter book. But it isn't broken into chapters and there is much too much text to be a traditional early reader.

The story may appeal to cat lovers especially. It does have a happy ending only slightly-slightly spoiled by the fact that the cat is still a little sad that his new name isn't his own original name.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Great Big Book of Friends

The Great Big Book of Friends. Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Ros Asquith. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: What is a friend? What do you think a friend is?

Premise/plot: The Great Big Book of Friends is a concept picture book about friendship and relationships. It's written in a conversational style. There are a lot of questions asked, a variety of answers given. It is not a traditional story book. Each two-page spread presents a topic or subject.
  • What is a friend?
  • Making friends
  • Best friends
  • A group of friends
  • Family or friends?
  • Sharing
  • Being different
  • A friend you haven't met
  • Imaginary friends
  • Animal friends
  • Friendly things
  • When friends fight
  • Losing friends
  • Who is NOT your friend?
  • How many friends?
  • Friends forever
I like the range of topics. I do. And the questions may be geared towards children primarily--as this is a children's books--but it provides food for thought for readers of all ages. Here are some of the questions asked:
  • What do you think a friend is?
  • Do you remember how you made all your friends?
  • Do you have one person who is your best friend?
  • Have you met all your friends? 
 My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I loved the page on friendly things. Friendly things include: books, stuffed animals, blankets, toys, etc. (The illustrations show a cat sitting in a laundry basket. His thought bubble reads: 'A cat's best friend is a laundry basket.' Earlier in the book, the cat is shown asking the question: 'Can food be a friend?'). But I also really loved the page on friends you haven't met.
Have you met all your friends? It might sound like a strange question, but it is possible to be friends with someone you have never met. You may have a pen pal who lives in another country and you can stay in touch by writing emails and letters.
(The cat on that page says: 'Cats purr the same in every language.')

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 5, 2018

I Am Walt Disney

I Am Walt Disney. Grace Norwich. Illustrated by Phil Parks. 2014. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Without me, Walt Disney, there would be no Mickey Mouse.

Premise/plot: I Am Walt Disney is an early chapter book biography for young readers (elementary-aged). The book spans Walt Disney's entire life--not just his childhood, not just his success and fame, not just his professional life, not just his legacy. It gives an overview in an age-appropriate way.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I probably would have LOVED it as a kid. It includes photographs, illustrations, sidebars, a timeline, glossary, and more. I think it definitely has appeal and is reader friendly.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore

Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore. (A Maisy First Experiences Book) Lucy Cousins. 2017. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Today Maisy is going to the local bookstore. She wants to buy a new book.

Premise/plot: In this 'first experiences' book Maisy goes to the local bookstore. (I doubt there'll be a book titled Maisy's First Amazon Order.) She's on a mission: to buy a book for a friend. (She might just buy a few books for herself as well.) While at the bookstore she browses the shelves, reads some stories on her own, meets her friends, listens to a story time, and eats at the cafe within the bookstore. She, of course, BUYS books in the end. Will Tallulah like her present?

My thoughts: Maisy is lucky. She does not have anyone saying: "Are you done yet?" "How much longer are you going to be?" "You've looked long enough."

I'm not sure I buy the premise that this is Maisy's first time in a bookstore. I get that the book is a way to introduce bookstores to a young audience. I do.

I think I do better with Maisy books not in the 'first experiences' series. I tend to over-think these and not the others. Maisy is old enough to live by herself, to go around by herself, to buy things by herself--which means she must either earn money or come from a wealthy mouse family. The idea that this is her very first time in a bookstore--yet she likes to read--seems a bit off.  

For little ones who love Maisy, this one is a good read. It celebrates books and reading.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Board book: Bathtime Mathtime

Board book: Bathtime Mathtime. Danica McKellar. Illustrated by Alicia Padron. 2018. Random house. 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Bathtime Mathtime, 1, 2, 3
Counting helps me add, you see!
Let's find out just how it's done.
Bathtime Mathtime starts with 1!
Bathtime Mathtime, 1, 2, 3
Getting in the bath is slippery!
Careful feet for me and you.
One foot, other foot--that makes 2!
Premise/plot: Bathtime Mathtime is a board book concept book that teaches or illustrates simple addition facts: 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+1=4, 4+1=5. It's set, of course, in a bathroom. It stars a naked baby, two puppies, some rubber duckies, some bubbles, and one rhyming care-giver.

My thoughts: My mother would be the first to tell you that sometimes I over-think books. That might just be the case with this board book written by a celebrity. Am I slightly hesitant to like it because a) it's about math b) it's written by a celebrity c) the rhymes are hit/miss and at times slightly awkward.

I liked the beginning. The initial rhymes on the first page worked for me. I am not a fan of the three/slippery line. But I am picky when it comes to rhythm and rhyme. Perhaps obnoxiously so. But here's where the over-thinking kicks in. WHY is the baby getting a bath with TWO puppies. What caregiver would say YES that sounds like an awesome way to spend the evening. It just seems like a big, big job to do for the fun of it. Also I'm thinking that the water looks way too deep for the baby--and the tiny puppies.

I think most readers would enjoy this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Fiona's Little Accident

Fiona's Little Accident. Rosemary Wells. 2018. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Fiona and her best friend, Felix, had built a volcano. It was going to erupt big-time at show-and-tell. At bedtime Fiona laid out her aloha dress, her sunshine undies, and her new red shoes.

Premise/plot: Fiona finds herself way too busy to go to the bathroom. The consequences of her putting it off again and again and again is an accident in front of everyone during the show-and-tell presentation. Will Fiona EVER be able to live this down?

My thoughts: The answer is YES. I haven't decided if that's because it's actually true OR if it's because Felix and Fiona live in a happily-ever-after kind of world where problems--big and small--are resolved neatly and wonderfully within thirty-two pages.

Felix is a good friend. There's no doubt about that. He's a keeper. Another hero is Victor. If Victor's show and tell had not gone so above and beyond Fiona's "little" accident and wowed the class, I'm not sure Fiona's accident would have been forgotten in less than a minute.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Peppa Pig and the Backyard Circus

Peppa Pig and the Backyard Circus. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's a sunny day, and Peppa and her friends are visiting Grandpa and Granny Pig. Grandpa Pig is using his hammer. "It's a circus tent!" says Peppa. "Hooray!" everyone shouts.

Premise/plot: Grandpa Pig has set up a tent in his backyard for Granny Pig's garden party. Peppa and her friends think it should be a circus tent. They want to put on a show. Everyone has something to do at the circus. What will Peppa do?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It was silly. But then again it is Peppa Pig. Expecting Peppa not to be silly is like expecting water not to be wet. In other words, it's great fun if you love Peppa Pig and all of her friends. If the point of a circus is to have fun, it's a great success.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Barnyard Boogie

Barnyard Boogie! Tim McCanna. Illustrated by Allison Black. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: The Barnyard Band is performing today. All the musicians are ready to play! Horse brings the tuba. Oompa Doompa Doo! Goat swings the sax. Honka wonka woo! But what can Cow do? Moo?

Premise/plot: Little ones meet the Barnyard Band in Tim McCanna's bright and bouncy picture book. The animals on the farm all have something to do in the band. But what will Cow do? How does he fit in the act?

My thoughts: I liked it. As long as there are picture books being published, there will be a new crop of farm books each year. There have been other animals-form-a-band books before, this one will fit right in.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 25, 2018

Board book: Whose Boat?

Whose Boat? Toni Buzzeo. Illustrated by Tom Froese. 2018. Abrams. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: On rivers, lakes, and ocean bays boat commanders spend their days. Harbor traffic comes and goes. Whose boat is that? Do you know?

Premise/plot: Each spread asks a question: Whose boat is this? The answer lies behind the flap.
People on top, and cars below. Whose boat is that? Do you know?
The car ferry captain's!
I move cars and drivers from shore to shore.
This is a nonfiction board book for little ones to grow with. I wasn't expecting this amount of detail in a board book; each boat is labeled. For the ferry boat: hydraulic ramp, bridge, passenger seats, observation deck, vehicle deck, hull.

My thoughts: It's never too early to introduce nonfiction to little ones. This one is boat-themed--all the way. In all honesty, it gets a bit awkward at times. I wish the question was What Boat? instead of Whose Boat?
In lobster traps
today's catch grows.
Whose boat is that?
Do you know?
The lobsterperson's!
I ride the
waves and haul
the traps.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 22, 2018

When I Grow UP

When I Grow Up. Story Adapted by Marilyn Easton. 2018. [July] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Today in school, Madame Gazelle asks the children what they would like to be when they grow up. She has a basket full of fun hats for them to choose from. The children are so excited to dress up! They run to the basket and each grap their items.

Premise/plot: Madame Gazelle is asking her students what they want to be when they grow up. Each student uses props--costumes--to answer the question. They also give their reasons WHY they want to be whatever it is. Madame Gazelle is surprised by one common thread their answers share.

My thoughts: I like this one. I don't remember seeing an episode like it. Is it possible I haven't seen every episode of Peppa Pig?! Or is it possible Scholastic is publishing an original story starring Peppa Pig?!

Peppa Pig unlike her classmates does NOT know what she wants to be when she grows up. She does NOT find the answer in a costume trunk. She does spend time thinking about it and not just going with what first pops into her mind.

George has an answer--impractical though it may be--a dinosaur, of course. 

I like that every character's impression is that all grown-ups get to tell people what to do. That is what being grown-up is all about.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Priscilla Gorilla

Priscilla Gorilla. Barbara Bottner. Illustrated by Michael Emberley. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  When Priscilla turned six, her dad gave her a book called ALL ABOUT GORILLAS. They read it a million skillion times!

Premise/plot: Priscilla spends a LOT of time in her classroom's thinking corner. It could be because she's a HUGE distraction to the rest of her class. Priscilla is so completely-absolutely obsessed with gorillas that she does not want to learn, at least in a traditional sense of the word.

My thoughts: To teachers everywhere looking for a book besides Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes to read aloud at the start of the year, I give you Priscilla Gorilla.

I liked it. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. Priscilla is an over-the-top character. It's just as easy to forgive her as to get mad at her in the first place. The book is cute.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Whose Moon Is That?

Whose Moon Is That? Kim Krans. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Whose moon is that?" asked the curious cat.

Premise/plot: A curious cat starts an argument when he asks 'Whose moon is that?' EVERYONE has an opinion--the tree, the mountain, a bird, a bear, an ocean.What will stop the argument? Is it the moon's answer or the rising sun?

My thoughts: It was okay for me. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I am not the ideal audience for books where oceans and trees speak...and speak in rhyme. Animal fantasy is one thing but I have limits to how far I can suspend my disbelief.

I personally wish the question had been Who Made the Moon?

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Book of Gold

The Book of Gold. Bob Staake. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Isaac Gutenberg wasn't interested in much. Not in toys, not in the funny papers, not even in his pet goldfish. His parents tried to tempt him with books.

Premise/plot: Isaac's parents LOVE to read; their son doesn't. They try taking him to the New York Public Library, but that field trip doesn't quite go as planned. He's just as bored by books there as he is at home. But...on that same trip they go to a shop. His parents are looking for a gift. A shopkeeper approaches Isaac and his life will never be the same...
"Tell me, child," she whispered. "Have you heard about The Book of Gold?" Isaac shook his head. "There is a legend," she explained, "that somewhere in the world there is one very special book that's just waiting to be discovered. It will look like any other book, but it holds all the answers to every question ever asked, and when it is opened, it turns to solid gold."
Seeing that he's become curious, she wishes him good luck. "You'll need patience and fortitude to find the Book of Gold!"

Isaac spends his life opening books. Soon it's just not opening books...but DEVOURING books as he reads them one after another. His curiosity grows and grows with each passing year. Will he ever discover The Book of Gold?

My thoughts: I liked this one. It is a bit text-heavy so perhaps it's best for older readers who still enjoy picture books. (In my opinion, one never ever ever outgrows picture books. There's a picture book perfect for each and every age.) The theme is timeless--books are magical--but the story is set in a specific time and place. Isaac, when we first meet him, is a child in 1935 in New York.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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