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

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