Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Board book: I Love Old MacDonald's Farm

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

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

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

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

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

I liked this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 28, 2018

Board book: Beach Day

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Little Robot Alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ten Magic Butterflies

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Board book: Dr. Seuss's 100 First Words

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 21, 2018

Thin Ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Dog With Nice Ears Featuring Charlie and Lola

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hans in Luck: Seven Stories by the Brothers Grimm

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

People Don't Bite People

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Camp Panda

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Board book: Mon Petit Busy Day

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Goodbye Brings Hello

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Lion Is A Lion

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 11, 2018

Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Board book: Mary Poppins ABC

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Great Chicken Escape

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

First sentence: Good Morning, Chickens.

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 7, 2018

Board book: Will Sheep Sleep?

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

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

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

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the story of this one. A book can use simple words and still tell a good, entertaining story. This story is told in a question-answer format. And a large part of the story is communicated not with words but by the illustrations.
Will brushing his teeth help Sheep sleep?
 The illustrations show Sheep and his friend sword-fighting with their toothbrushes.

Will a night-light help Sheep sleep?
The illustrations show Sleep and his friend playing shadow-puppets.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Composer is Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 4, 2018

Board book: Star Wars Block

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Relatives Came

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Board book: Will Bear Share?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers