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