Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Am Human

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Stealing the Sword (Time Jumpers #1)

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

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sloth at the Zoom

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

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

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

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

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

I loved, loved, LOVED the illustrations.

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





© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Itchy Book

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

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

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

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

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



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Daddy, Me, and the Magic Hour

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stop, Go, Yes, No!

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fiona the Hippo

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 10, 2018

Board book: Lit for Little Hands: Alice in Wonderland

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Board book: First French Words

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

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 7, 2018

Board books: Nita's First Signs

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Board book: Hello Ninjas!

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Board books: Hello Knights

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tigers and Tea with Toppy

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 3, 2018

Zola's Elephant

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

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

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

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

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




© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Freight Train

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Millions of Cats

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

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

Millions of Cats is a Newbery Honor book from 1929.

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

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

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

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

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Girl Named Helen

A Girl Named Helen: The True Story of Helen Keller. (Amercian Girl) Bonnie Bader. 2018. [October 9] Scholastic. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Helen Keller became deaf and blind when she was a small child in the 1800s. At that time, not many deaf people learned to communicate. But Helen did. Not many blind people learned to communicate. But Helen did. Helen wrote books, gave speeches, and traveled around the world.

Premise/plot: A Girl Named Helen is an early chapter book biography of Helen Keller. It has seven chapters, a timeline, and a glossary.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I would have loved, loved, loved it as a kid--for two reasons really. I *might* have been a wee bit obsessed with the film adaptations of The Miracle Worker. I might have watched it on VHS a couple dozen times. I *might* have started finger spelling as a hobby. I also was always looking for biographies with illustrations and big print as a kid.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ashlyn's Fall Fiesta

Ashlyn's Fall Fiesta. Scholastic Reader, Level 2. (AmericanGirl, WellieWishers) Meredith Rusu. 2018. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The wind is blowing. The leaves are changing colors. Fall has come to the garden. And that means it’s time for a party; Ashlyn’s Fall Fiesta. Ashlyn makes sure everything is just right.

Premise/plot: Ashlyn’s party is a HUGE fail…or is it? Do things have to go according to plan to be fun?!

My thoughts: Ashlyn thought she was taking EVERYTHING into account. But pride goes before a fall sometimes. Such is the case with this American Girl themed early reader. She may have the decorations and the food planned down to the last little detail, but Ashlyn apparently didn’t check the weather forecast. Also she didn’t have a plan B. Plan B could have been—should have been—moving the party inside the garden playhouse. But everyone relaxes in this one and perhaps that is the point…to not have a plan.

I liked it okay. I think I like the early readers better than the picture books. I’m not sure why! 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Board book: I Love You Through and Through at Christmas, Too

I Love You Through and Through at Christmas, Too. Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak. Illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church. 2018. Scholastic. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I love you at Christmas -- shopping and wrapping, making and baking, smiling and eating.

Premise/plot: This board book is a holiday-themed follow up to I Love You Through and Through.
It is written in verse.

My thoughts: Caroline Jayne Church's illustrations are adorable. Adorable--as always. If you have been reading or reviewing board books for any length of time, chances are you're familiar with her sweet, adorable, precious illustration style. If you love her work then you should definitely read this one.  

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kendall's Snow Fort

Kendall's Snow Fort. Scholastic Reader Level 2: AmericanGirl WellieWishers. Meredith Rusu. 2018. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

First sentence: Brrr! It’s a cold winter day. Snow covers the ground in the garden. But the WllieWishers are not cold. They are nice and warm inside their playhouse!

Premise/plot: It is winter. The WellieWishers think it would be a great idea to build a snow fort. Especially Kendall. It was her idea after all. But there are a couple of problems. Kendall isn’t sure they have time to finish before the snow storm arrives. Kendall doesn’t trust her friends to help her and stay on task. Will her friends follow through on their commitment or will they get distracted? Will the gang finish before the storm arrives?

The WellieWishers series includes paperback picture books and paperback early readers. The picture books usually include stickers. The early readers usually include a paperdoll. By collecting them all, you’d have the whole WellieWisher’s gang in paper dolls.

My thoughts: I like the idea of collecting all the paper dolls. I do. As a kid I loved playing paper dolls. I like the story well enough. Again it may not be oh-so-amazing in terms of being literature. But why should a book for this age group or any age group have to be.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sunny Day Scavenger Hunt

Sunny Day Scavenger Hunt (American Girl, WellieWishers) Meredith Rusu. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Splish-splash. Splash-Splash. Emerson stomps through the puddles in the garden. She sings as she goes.

Premise/plot: This paperback picture book stars the American Girl WellieWishers: Camille, Willa, Ashlyn, Kendall, and Emerson. The WellieWisher gang is going on a scavenger hunt for colors. It’s a competition—so expect a little friction between the girls.

My thoughts: At the very least you can say this might be a good party gift for a friend who LOVES American Girl dolls. Probably one of the most affordable American-Girl products you could gift. And it includes stickers. It may not be amazing literature. But not all books have to be amazing. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Firefighters to the Rescue (Lego City)

Firefighters to the Rescue (Lego Nonfiction) Penlope Arlon. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Emergency! Someone needs our help. Let’s go!

Premise/plot: LEGO City: Firefighters to the Rescue is one of the books in the LEGO Nonfiction series. It blends nonfiction narrative—straightforward facts about firefighters and fire stations—with dialogue between LEGO characters. It blends photographs from the real world with illustrations from LEGO City. It also includes suggestions for how to play with LEGO.

My thoughts: I like it. I like the nonfiction narrative better than the LEGO dialogue. But I think both have their place.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Board book: Good Night, My Love

Good Night, My Love. Sandra Magsamen. 2013/2018. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good night, my little buttercup. It's off to bed for you. Good night, my precious baby bear. May all your dreams come true.

Premise/plot: Good Night, My Love features a squishy, sparkly moon. The board book also features flaps to lift. It is a bedtime themed board book for little ones.

My thoughts: The text is sweet. The illustrations are as well. Is it my absolute favorite bedtime book? NO. Not really. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Joyce Wan's You Are My Cupcake which was published in 2012. Though technically You Are My Cupcake isn't bedtime-themed. It can be read--perhaps should be read--morning, noon, and night.

Reading to little ones is essential. Your child is never too young to start. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Police in Action (Lego City Nonfiction)

Police in Action: A Lego Adventure in the Real World. Penelope Arlon. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Police officers are always ready for action. Stop, crooks! I've got this! They can't outrun my speedy motorcycle.

Premise/plot: This LEGO City book is part of Lego's nonfiction series. This one is about the police. It blends a nonfiction narrative with dialogue between LEGO minifigures. The nonfiction text is straightforward facts. The dialogue, well, it tends towards silliness and bad jokes. The book does feature photographs as well as illustrations.

My thoughts: I liked it okay. I like the nonfiction bits. I do. I just am not overly crazy about the joking dialogue of the LEGO figures. I think kids might enjoy both. After all, I'm not in the intended age group!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lego City: Stop That Train!

Lego City: Stop That Train. Ace Landers. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day a young man rushes through LEGO City to catch his train.

Premise/plot: Will the young man catch his train? If he misses it what will he do? Where is he going anyway?

My thoughts: The young man DOES miss his train. It would be a VERY short book if he didn't. In fact, if something could go wrong, it does. That's just how some days go, right?

This one isn't great literature. But. For little LEGO lovers I do think it will be an enjoyable read. It's a paperback book that comes with a small poster. This is the kind of book that is often available at school book fairs and in book catalogs. I do think those programs are good overall.

It is the young man's birthday. The book ends with him arriving at a surprise birthday party. This book might make a great inexpensive party gift. 

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Board book: Have You Seen My Lunch Box?

Board book: Have You Seen My Lunch Box? Steve Light. 2017. Candlewick. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Time for school. Where are my socks?

Premise/plot: The star of this one is having trouble finding things! Can you help him out?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It is a seek-and-find board book. Little ones are asked to help find an object on each page or spread. Often this is phrased as a question. (But not always). The text is simple and straightforward. The illustrations are silly and delightful. If little ones don't fully appreciate the illustrations--in all their details--perhaps parents will.

For example,
I need to find my crayon.
In this one he is looking in the bathroom. The crayon is mixed in with toothbrushes.
Is my robot here?
In this one, his robot is in the refrigerator of all places!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, August 6, 2018

Board book: I Love the Nutcracker

Board book: I Love the Nutcracker: My First Sound Book. Marion Billet. 2018. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: On Christmas Eve, Clara receives a special Nutcracker toy. Can you find it?

Premise/plot: This interactive board book introduces six songs from the Nutcracker Suite to little ones. The songs are: "The March," "Chinese Dance," "Russian Dance," "Dance of the Mirlitons," "Flower Waltz," and "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy."

The board book does not seek to share the somewhat complicated, almost surreal story of the Nutcracker ballet. This board book is not an adaptation of the ballet's story.

The text is kept very simple. And it even asks questions. For example,
Watch the pandas leap and twirl. Who is watching the teapot?
The dance gets faster and faster! How many dancers do you see?
My thoughts: The way most people feel about BACON is the way I feel about The Nutcracker. To qualify that statement I'll add: I'm talking about the music and not necessarily the ballet. I like the ballet. But I love, love, love, CRAZY LOVE the music. I listen to the Nutcracker year round. Perhaps because I don't always associate it with the ballet itself. (After all, its interpretation in Fantasia is NOT holiday related.)

Each spread has a button for little ones to press. Press the button to hear the song--there are six total songs. The song will play once through and stop on its own. But if your little one has fast fingers and wants to go through the book quickly, you may press the button again to stop the song before turning the page. BEFORE the reading experience, you will need to turn the book ON. Can I just say that I love, love, love the fact that this book has an off/on switch. I'm hoping this will help preserve the life of the battery.  I can see the pros and cons of having an off/on switch. You will need to remember to turn it off when you're finished.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Bonus NOVELTY: 5 out of 5
Total: 11 out of 15


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, August 3, 2018

Peanut Butter's First Day of School

Peanut Butter's First Day of School. Terry Border. 2018. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Peanut Butter was scared. Tomorrow was the first day of school! Peanut Butter was new in town, but he had already made some friends.

Premise/plot: This LEVEL 2 early reader is narrated by an open face peanut butter sandwich. Peanut Butter is more than a little worried about starting school and making friends. On the day before school starts, Peanut Butter practices his walk to school, on the way he meets a few people who are also starting school: a cupcake, an egg, a bowl of soup, and Jelly (an open face jelly sandwich). He even ends up joining a soccer game. (Readers don't properly meet ALL the people on the field.) The book then shows his first day of school.

My thoughts: What a strange book. I say strange, and I mean it, yet even though I was never sure at any given time if I was "liking" it...I remained mesmerized by the illustrations. Each page proved interesting or fascinating. Even when the story was less so. The story, as you can imagine, isn't all that unique. The illustrations are.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Board Book: On the Go with Mother Goose

On the Go with Mother Goose. Iona Opie, editor. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2017. Candlewick Press. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Down at the station,
early in the morning,
See the little puffer-billies
all in a row;
See the engine driver
pull his little lever--
Puff puff, peep peep
off we go!
Premise/plot: This is a themed Mother Goose collection for parents to share with their little ones. The theme is ON THE GO. There are rhymes about going, coming, and arriving. Some of the rhymes may prove familiar to adults, though don't expect every poem to be an old friend. There are SO many Mother Goose rhymes and this collection just shares a few of them that fit this theme.
To market, to market,
to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again,
jiggety-jig.
To market, to market,
to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again,
jiggety-jog.
My thoughts: It's probably best not to come to this one with expectations of what should be included. I'm not sure if the 'missing' rhymes are missing because they've been included in other board book collections by Opie and Wells OR if perhaps the nursery rhymes are not Mother Goose but come from another source. Are all nursery rhymes by 'Mother Goose'? For example, I am thinking of "This Little Piggy," "Wee Willie Winkie," "Rub-a-dub-dub."

The book features illustrations by Rosemary Wells.
 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Merry Christmas, Little One

Merry Christmas, Little One. (Board book). Sandra Magsamen. 2010/2018. Scholastic. 10 page. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Christmas comes but once a year, a time for magic, love, and cheer!

Premise/plot: Merry Christmas, Little One is a holiday-themed board book for little ones. It features a puffy fabric tree on the cover. Inside there are plenty of flaps to lift. The text is written in rhyme. It stars a couple of snowmen.

My thoughts: If this one didn't feature a soft, squishy tree....what would I think of it? I'm not sure sure. I'm just glad it does. Board books don't have to be great literature with amazing text and incredible illustrations to offer an opportunity to bond with your little one. This board book is a cozy size. I'm not sure how durable the flaps will prove over time, but it's not like a Christmas book will be read every day right?! Well, at least not so long as Elmo can be prevented from wishing for Christmas every day.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 30, 2018

Board book: I Am A Zamboni Machine

I Am a Zamboni Machine. 2018. Scholastic. 8 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I am a Zamboni machine. I drive around and around the rink. I make the ice clean and smooth. I scrape off bumps with my blade. I spray down hot water to leave a perfect sheet of ice.

Premise/plot: This is a novelty-shaped board book for little hockey lovers. It explains what a zamboni machine does in simple sentences. (I'm not sure why the driver has a puppy dog with him!)

My thoughts: Shape books can be great fun. The pages tend to be easier to turn. The unique edges offer even more for little ones to chew. I am so relieved that the author didn't attempt to tell this story in rhyme! The only thing that would make this one better would be if the wheels turned too.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

LEGO Minifigures: Mix and Match

LEGO Minifigures: Mix & Match. Michael Petranek. Illustrated by Paul Lee. 2018. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Monster Scientist, full of silly ideas, uses an experiment to create a Monster Rocker to throw a rocking party.

Premise/plot: This book is a novelty board book that has little ones mixing and matching the heads, bodies, and legs of LEGO minifigures. The resulting stories are ridiculous--which may be just the thing for little ones who love to giggle.

My thoughts: Mix-and-match humor isn't my cup of tea. But I could see this one appealing to the intended age group.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Great Cheese Robbery

The Great Cheese Robbery (Pocket Pirates #1) Chris Mould. 2015/2018. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: At the end of the street is an old junk shop.

Premise/plot: The pocket pirates live in a dusty ship in a bottle in an old junk shop. When the shop owner isn't around they explore the shop. But exploring can be dangerous when you're only a few inches tall. Their cat gets kidnapped by mice! It's up to these pocket-sized pirates to rescue him. The mice are demanding a huge block of cheese. The pirates will have to venture to the freezing place where it is ALWAYS winter.

My thoughts: This one has plenty of characters--most of them pirates. It's an action-packed fantasy for young readers relatively new to early chapter books. I liked it. It was over-the-top silly. But silly isn't a bad thing if you're in a just-right mood for a laugh.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Peppa Gives Thanks

Peppa Gives Thanks. (Peppa Pig) Meredith Rusu. Illustrated by Eone. 2018. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is a lovely, sunny morning. Peppa and Suzy are having a tea party in the garden. "I brought my teddy to join us!" says Peppa. "Did you bring your owl, Suzy?" "No," says Suzy. "I brought my new Mr. Super Snuggles. He's the best bear in the whole world."

Premise/plot: What will happen when Peppa comes home WANTING a new teddy bear, a super-super special teddy bear just like her friend Suzy has? Well, if you've read the title you can guess that Peppa will learn a little something about being thankful for what she has. What else does Peppa have to be thankful for besides her teddy?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this Peppa Pig story. As I said a few reviews ago, some Peppa Pig books have an actual story. This is one of them. It does have a strong lesson in it--what it means to be thankful, intentionally being thankful and expressing it.

Mr. Super Snuggles doesn't sound super to me. I would not want a teddy bear to sing or say I love you. I especially, especially would NOT want a teddy bear to have glowing eyes. I do not want my teddy bear to have a goa'uld.

I like the lesson on gratitude. I do. And there are many reasons why Peppa Pig probably doesn't really need another teddy bear--at least not right this minute. But. I do want to point out that you can have more than one teddy bear. It's not bad to have more than one teddy bear. Hearts can expand to love many, many, many special toys--or special bears.

This paperback book does include a 'thankful card.'

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Board book: Night Creatures

Peppa Pig: Night Creatures. (Board book). Illustrated by Eone. 2018. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Peppa and George are having a sleepover at Granny and Grandpa Pig's house. Before bedtime, they help Grandpa Pig collect slugs and snails from his garden so they won't eat his vegetables.

Premise/plot: This novelty board book comes with a flash light. The story itself is about Peppa and George Pig learning about night creatures--creatures like slugs, snails, hedgehogs, owls, and bats--from their Grandpa Pig. The book features flaps to lift and a pop-up.

My thoughts: It's a novelty book. If your little one has an obsession with shining flash lights and you want to encourage them in that activity, then this one might be fun for Peppa Pig enthusiasts.

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


© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Board book: I Can Be Anything

I Can Be Anything (Board Book: Peppa Pig). Annie Auerbach. Illustrated by Eone. 2018. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Peppa Pig loves to play dress up. She uses her imagination to become all kinds of different characters.

Premise/plot: Peppa Pig loves to imagine what she'll be when she grows up. It's too much fun imagining to pick just one thing to be.

My thoughts: Well. It is what it is. Some Peppa Pig books are actual story books. But not all. The point of this one is very simple: Peppa Pig has been told she can be absolutely anything she wants to when she grows up. And so Peppa Pig imagines herself being many, many, many, many different things. She's a fire fighter, an astronaut, a chef, a ballerina.

For those who absolutely love Peppa Pig this one might be worth reading.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Question of Time

A Question of Time. Dina Anastasio. 1978. 90 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Syd opened her eyes and glanced out the window.

Premise/plot: Syd Stowe moves with her family from New York City to a small town in Minnesota. Her great-grandfather, Jake Stowe, moved from that same town to New York when he was just eighteen. That would have been circa 1900. At first she's so upset that she doesn't want to leave the house and make friends. But after discovering a toy shop with homemade wooden dolls, she becomes fascinated with the history of the town. In particular how the dolls connect to the history of the town. The shop owner says that the dolls' appearance is based on real life people.

Soon after Syd meets a girl around her own age that looks just like one of the dolls. Both of them carry a bag of marbles. Weird. The two start hanging out together. Can Laura help her figure out who the dolls are supposed to be? Can Laura help her discover the identity of their maker?

My thoughts: A Question of Time is a weird mystery. Syd, our heroine, is drawn into a mystery in the past. It's a mystery that leads her straight back to her own family. It's a book that in some ways leaves more questions for readers than it answers. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Would I have enjoyed reading A Question of Time as a kid? Probably not. I would describe this one as bittersweet at best. I did not do bittersweet as a kid. If it didn't end happy, I was MAD.



© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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