Monday, October 14, 2019

Hi, Jack!

Hi, Jack! Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. 2019. 80 pages. [Source: Library

First sentence: This is Jack. Hi, Jack! Look, Jack waves hi back!

Premise/plot: Jack is a very naughty rabbit who stars in Mac Barnett’s newest children’s book. Jack isn’t the only character, mind you. There’s also an old lady (the lady) and Rex the dog. It’s told in simple, easy-to-read words and short sentences. It is entertaining.

My thoughts: Mischievous characters can be quite fun to read about. I certainly wouldn’t want too many Jacks in real life! Early readers can often be a little lacking in story. This story is packed with equal parts naughtiness and reprimands. It also includes a bonus section where readers can learn how to draw the characters.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bear's Book

Bear's Book. Claire Freedman. 2019. 34 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there was a bear whose favorite thing to do was read. But Bear had a problem: he had read his book of stories so many times that it was falling to pieces...and one day a gust of wind blew all the pages away!

Premise/plot: After his favorite book is gone, Bear decides to write a new book. But writing does not come as naturally as reading!!! In fact, Bear finds himself stumped. But with more than a little help from his friends...he may just find inspiration and an opportunity to exercise his imagination.

My thoughts: At first I thought that Bear and I were peas in a pod. Then upon rereading I realized that Bear never broke down and cried over losing his favorite book. I would definitely have cried ugly tears. I would have found consolation somewhere—someway. But tears would have come first. Maybe Bear has been influenced by Pete the Cat. I love the character of Bear. I do. I think the book is super sweet. I love the themes of friendship and storytelling.

Illustrations: 5/5
Total: 10/10
© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 7, 2019

Most Marshmallows

Most Marshmallows. Rowboat Watkins. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Most marshmallows don’t grow on trees or come from storks or even Mars.

Premise/plot: Just because MOST marshmallows don’t...doesn’t mean that a marshmallow can’t. The book explores the notion of conformity and nonconformity.

My thoughts: The book is quite imaginative for being about conformity. The illustrations are silly in an oddly wonderful way. This book is definitely whimsical.

Text: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Total: 7/10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

How To Read A Book

How To Read A Book. Kwame Alexander. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: First, find a tree—a black Tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself. (It’s okay if you prefer a stoop, like Langston Hughes.)

Premise/plot: This picture book is actually an illustrated poem celebrating reading. The book is rich in imagery. The illustrations complement the sentiment quite well. Melissa Sweet used an old copy of Bambi in her collages. Will children notice and appreciate the amount of work put into the details?! Perhaps. But many adults will. Perhaps those on award committees especially?!?!

My thoughts: I love to read. I absolutely love, love, love to read. I don’t necessarily love poetry. Or love all poetry to be more precise. But this is a lovely book. I love the text more than the illustrations. But the illustrations do scream out Caldecott winner or honor. (I rarely “like” award winners. If I gush over the illustrations then that might be a good indication that it’s unlikely to get a fancy sticker.)

Text: 5/5
Illustrations: 3/5

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 23, 2019

Nixie Ness: Cooking Star

Nixie Ness: Cooking Star. (After School Superstars) Claudia Mills. 2019. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: “Come back, puppy noses!” Nixie Ness scolded.

Premise/plot: Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny are best, best, best friends. But their friendship is tested when Nixie joins an after-school program—a cooking class or camp—and Grace does not. The two are used to spending each afternoon together. Now Grace goes to Elyse’s house after school. Elyse has a new kitten. Elyse and Grace become inseparable within days. Nixie is frustrated, sad, lonely, angry, and jealous. Nixie is spending time with others too, but, reluctantly. Her teammates are not best friend material. (Though Vera does seem fun!) Can Nixie come up with a (successful) plan to get Grace back?!?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. Nixie is a character that is easy to relate to. Friendship among young girls—these are third graders—is such a tricky, tricksy thing to navigate. Emotions run high. I enjoyed the theme of friendship and forgiveness. I also enjoyed the cooking aspect of it. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 20, 2019

Sam the Firefly

Sam the Firefly. P.D. Eastman. 1958. 62 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The moon was up when Sam came out.

Premise/plot: Sam is a lonely owl looking for a friend. He finds a friend in Gus the firefly. Sam is impressed by Gus’ trick of writing words in the air. But Gus gets carried away. He loses sight of right and wrong and good and bad. Sam tries to teach Gus to be responsible. Gus does NOT want to listen. But all actions have consequences. Gus learns this the hard way. Will Sam and Gus be reunited?!

My thoughts: I grew up reading Are You My Mother and Go, Dog, Go! But this was my first time reading Sam and the Firefly. This would have been one of the first beginning readers to be published—it was published in 1958. The story it tells is substantive. This isn’t a simple rhyming story about a pig in a wig or a frog on a log. It definitely seems more complex than Go, Dog, Go! I liked it overall. Gus was VERY naughty.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 13, 2019

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao. Kat Zhang. Illustrated by Charlene Chua. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Amy can do a lot of things. She can brush her teeth. She can tie her shoe. She can even do both at once...sort of.

Premise/plot: Will Amy ever learn how to make bao like her mom, dad, and grandma?! She tries. She tries hard. She tries often. She listens. She imitates. This book chronicles her attempts to make the perfect bao—one that doesn’t fall apart. It very much celebrates family, family life, traditions, food and feasts.

My thoughts: This picture book was lovely and charming. I enjoyed meeting Amy and her family. I loved her determination. I loved her spirit. She seems like a kindred spirit.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sam the Minuteman

Sam the Minuteman. Nathaniel Benchley. Illustrated by Arthur Lobel. 1969. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: About two hundred years ago a boy named Sam Brown lived with his parents on a farm in Lexington, Massachusetts, near Boston.

Premise/plot: This one is about the start of the American Revolution; it depicts the conflict between the British soldiers stationed in Boston and the American minutemen. Sam Brown is a boy who follows in his father’s footsteps fighting side by side with his dad. It is told from the perspective of youth and innocence.

My thoughts: This I Can Read book is illustrated by Arnold Lobel. That is initially what drew me to choosing this one from the library shelf. I enjoy history. Almost always have. The narrative is not super engaging from a modern perspective. It is a little dry. But the illustrations are classic Lobel. I am glad I read this one.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Wolf in Underpants

The Wolf in Underpants. Wilfrid Lupano. Illustrated by Mayana Itoiz and Paul Cauuet. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

  First sentence: High above the forest lives the wolf. An icy cry. Crazy eyes. In these woods, we know to move our butts when the wolf comes down to eat.

Premise/plot: The forest residents are confident of at least one thing in life: the wolf is to be feared! No doubt about it, an unprepared and uninformed resident is one just waiting to be eaten or devoured. This picture book explores what happens when some actually actually come face to face with the wolf. They are surprised by many many things. For one, he is wearing underpants!!! For another, he is not at all like his description—perhaps with one exception, his teeth are sharp. Could everyone have the wrong impression of the wolf?! Could their preparations have been for absolutely nothing? Is their enemy one of their own imagining?

My thoughts: This is a clever picture book that will appeal to readers of various ages. The wolf is in underwear on most if not all pages. That and the use of the word “butts” throughout will make it hilarious to readers of a certain age. But on a serious note, it says something—something universal—about our culture. There is a market for fear. People can have a livelihood of talking about the enemy, building up fears—all in the name of building awareness, making you prepared, keeping you informed, protecting you and your loved ones. Sometimes what we think we know isn’t worth much. That’s not to say there wasn’t a germ of truth to their fears. The wolf did appear to be vicious and wild, crazy. But that was because of his COLD bum. The underpants that someone kindly knit him and gave him “changed” his life. No matter how much or how little you read into this one, it is an enjoyable read with a few giggles.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, August 30, 2019

Anne's Kindred Spirits

Anne's Kindred Spirits. Kallie George. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. 2019. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The day dawned bright and cheery at Green Gables.

Premise/plot: Anne Shirley is staying at Green Gables. Her dreams are starting to come true. But will she find a bosom friend? Will she find a best, best friend and kindred spirit? Perhaps. Okay, she does! Her name is Diana. But life still has its hiccups. Marilla misplaces a brooch—a family heirloom—and blames Anne. Anne confesses to the crime so that she can go to the Sunday school picnic. But will Marilla let a “naughty” girl go? In this one, the two must learn how to communicate better!

My thoughts: I love the original novel. I do. I’ve read it dozens of times. I know all the twists and turns. I love all the twists and turns. I appreciate the adaptation. It is a gentle adaptation that is faithful to the original at least in spirit. It presents a few episodes at a time, and illustrates them perfectly. I love, love, love the illustrations!!!

The original novel may not hold the attention of many young readers (as a read aloud). The chapters may prove too long for their attention span. The language may be a little too descriptive and flowery. But this adaptation shares the heart and soul substance of the original with a new audience. Little ones can grow into Montgomery’s original text.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Anne Arrives

Anne Arrives. Kallie George. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. 2018. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One sunny afternoon in June, Mrs. Rachel Lynde looked out her window.

Premise/plot: This is an early chapter book adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. That is it’s an adaptation of the first handful of chapters. It begins with Mrs. Lynde, Matthew, and Marina being surprised. Anne is a girl orphan and not a boy one like the Cuthberts requested! It ends with Anne apologizing to Rachel and being allowed to stay after all. (We don’t get so far as the brooch, the Sunday school picnic, meeting Diana, etc.)

My thoughts: I never thought the story would itself so easily to illustrations. But it does! The illustrations are lovely and delightful!!! They capture the emotional tones of the story quite well. Joy, wonder, anger, love, heartache, etc. The text is not identical to Montgomery’s. It is an adaptation. I had my doubts that anyone could “improve” upon the original. But George’s text fabulously suits young readers. The original text requires a good attention span as a read aloud choice. And it’s not one that most young readers can pick up and read on their own.

I loved the art and text!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Can You See Me?

Can You See Me? Bob Staake. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am yellow.

Premise/plot: Can You See Me? This Beginner Book stars a chameleon playing hide and seek. The again again question of the day is, “Can you see me?” This one is repetitive and silly but may prove entertaining to young readers. Color words are often among the first sight words children learn to read.

My thoughts: I am not the ideal audience for this one! I liked it well enough, but didn’t love, love, love it like I have some other early readers. (For example, Go, Dog, Go; Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb; Are You My Mother.) Still recommendable to families with young ones ready to read.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, August 26, 2019

Skunk in My Bunk

A Skunk in My Bunk. Christopher Cerf. Illustrated by Nicola Slater. 2019. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: GOAT. GOAT COAT. A goat in a coat.

Premise/plot: Can a Beginner Reader be entertaining and instructional?! Yes! This one features a series of stories all told in rhyme. The stories have a classic, almost vintage feel to them. Perhaps because of the illustration style. Perhaps because these are the same old rhymes that have been used to teach reading forever. (For example, pigs wearing wigs.)

My thoughts: I loved this one. Most of the stories were enjoyable. A few made me giggle. I loved, loved, loved the one starring a skunk! This is how it begins:
SMELL YELL/ “My bunk has a smell that’s so bad I could yell!”/ SMELL TELL/ “Why does it smell? I don’t know. Can YOU tell?”/ SKUNK BUNK/ “There’s a skunk in my bunk!”/ BUNK STUNK/ “THAT’S why my bunk stunk!”

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Board book: Goodnight, Starry Night

Goodnight, Starry Night (Peek-a-boo Art) Amy Guglielmo and Julie Appel. 2019. [October 15] Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Goodnight glowing moon up high.../ Goodnight stars. Goodnight sky.

Premise/plot: Love reading? Love art? This rhyming board book combines ART with the oh-so-familiar game of peek-a-boo. And if that wasn't enough, it is also a lovely bedtime book! So the art being shared with little ones:
  • Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night
  • Berthe Morisot's The Cradle
  • Henri Rousseau's The Sleeping Gypsy
  • Franz Marc's The White Cat
  • Diego Rivera's Delfina and Dimas
  • Vincent van Gogh's The Bedroom
 The book ends with a smidge of information about each artist.

My thoughts: This was a lovely, charming book. I would have loved it even without the peek-a-boo feature. The rhyming text goes so well with the artwork they've selected to highlight. Many pages--though not all--feature a die-cut that allows a peek-a-boo effect with each piece of art. The text is definitely art-driven!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Pigeon Has to Go to School

The Pigeon Has To Go To School. Mo Willems. 2019. [July] Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: WAIT! Don't read that title! Too late. Rats...Why do I have to go to school? I already know EVERYTHING! Go on--ask me a question. Any question!

Premise/plot: The Pigeon is back in another picture book adventure. He's starred in MANY books including: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!; The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!; Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!; The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!; The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!; The Pigeon Needs a Bath! The Pigeon, our HERO, is trying to convince us readers that he does NOT need to go to school. NOT HIM. NO WAY. What will it take to get him to WANT to go to school?!?!

My thoughts: I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, CRAZY LOVE AND ADORE Mo Willems. I do. I especially love his Elephant and Piggie series. But I also love his Pigeon series. Especially The Pigeon Needs a Bath! and The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! This may be my new favorite in the Pigeon series. Though I will say this, the books build upon one another. It is definitely true that one doesn't have to read them in a particular order in order to enjoy them. BUT... The more Pigeon books you've shared with your little one, your young reader, in the past, the more you will LOVE and ENJOY this latest title. (You both will.)
Does "school" start in the morning?
Because you know what I'm like in the morning! It is NOT pretty. 
I think most can relate to Pigeon!

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

A Friend for Dragon

A Friend for Dragon. (Dragon #1) Dav Pilkey. 2019. Scholastic. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: There once was a blue dragon who lived in a little house all by himself. Sometimes Dragon got lonely. "I wish I had a friend," said Dragon. So he went out into the world to look for a friend.

Premise/plot: Dragon is a lovable character created by Dav Pilkey. This is his first book; it is an early chapter book. Dragon is LONELY, oh-so-lonely. His first few attempts at making a friend fail. It seems, at first, that he will always be lonely and friendless. Then he meets APPLE...Is Apple the PERFECT friend for a Dragon?

My thoughts: This one is super, super, super silly. Dragon is foolish and gullible...but he's also LOVABLE and KIND. I don't love, love, love this one as much as Dragon's FAT CAT but I do like it. I think I liked it more the second time than the first time. So maybe it just has to grow on you.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Pug Blasts Off (Diary of a Pug #1)

Diary of a Pug: Pug Blasts Off (Pug #1) Kyla May. 2019. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dear Diary, Baron Von Bubbles here. But everyone calls me Bub. Here are some things to know about me: I always dress to impress. I make many different faces: belly rub face, have to go out face, really have to go out face, face for Duchess. (She acts like she owns the place.) Face for Nutz. (He steals my stuff all the time.) Here are some of my favorite things: My skateboard. Bear. Peanut butter.

Premise/plot: Readers meet Bub and Bella in this first book in a new series published by Scholastic. Bella is super-excited to be participating in an inventing challenge competition. But inventing something new and exciting is tough work. Especially with Bub, Duchess, and a crazy squirrel running around. When Bella's first invention goes amiss, can Bub help save the day?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I thought Bub was adorable. I was glad that there was also a cat in the series. The series is in a heavily illustrated notebook format. It makes for a quick and cutesy read. The art is bold, colorful, and CUTESY.

It is similar to the Owl Diaries series, in my opinion.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 22, 2019

Dragon's Fat Cat

Dragon's Fat Cat (Dragon #2) Dav Pilkey. 2019. (1992) Scholastic. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One snowy day in January, Dragon heard a funny noise. "Meow!" "That sounds like a cat," said Dragon.

Premise/plot: Dragon makes a new friend in this early chapter book by Dav Pilkey. That friend is, you guessed it, a cat, a FAT, GRAY CAT. There are five chapters in this one:
  • "Meow!" 
  • Life With Cat
  • Problems
  • Left Behind
  • Home Again
In the first chapter, Dragon meets a fat, gray cat and invites him inside.

In the second chapter, Dragon takes the cat inside and names him, "Cat." Dragon prepares a special bed for his new friend/pet. (The Cat takes Dragon's bed.)

In the third chapter, readers learn just how much Dragon does NOT know about owning a cat.
(Dragon does NOT know that his cat needs a litter box, for example.) He eventually finds himself at a pet store.

In the fourth chapter, Dragon realizes that he left Cat behind at the pet store. He must find and "rescue" Cat. When he finds Cat, he finds a big surprise! The reason why Cat was so FAT...

In the fifth chapter, Dragon returns home with Cat and her kittens. He starts preparing beds for all the little ones--he's named each one KITTY. Will Cat and kittens sleep in their beds?! Or will they still have ownership of Dragon's big bed?!

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, loved, CRAZY-LOVED this one. I enjoyed the writing very much. It was funny.
Dragon liked living with Cat,
and Cat liked living with Dragon.
But Dragon did not know
how to take care of Cat.
He did not know how to train Cat.
That was a problem.
Dragon did not know what to feed Cat.
That was a big problem.
And Dragon did not know what to do
about all the yellow puddles Cat made.
That was a smelly problem.
 I think this one will hold great appeal for young readers. I first read and reviewed this one in 2009. It has been newly republished this year. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Board book: I Love Mozart!

I Love Mozart: My First Sound Book. Marion Billet. 2019. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Let's celebrate Mozart's music!

Premise/plot: This board book "introduces" little ones to six selections of classical music from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The songs included are: "Sonata for Violin and Piano," "Clarinet Concerto," "Sonata Facile," "Symphony No. 40," "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," and "Twelve Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

My thoughts: One of my favorite things about this one is that there is an off/on switch. Board books with batteries are tricky. On the one hand, they are usually fun. On the other hand, the batteries won't last all that long. The more beloved a book is, the quicker the battery dies. Then it is just SAD, SAD, super-sad. Little fingers can touch the 'buttons' on each spread to start and stop the music. Each song lasts under a minute.

Mozart is my favorite composer.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Into the Wild

Into the Wild. (Chicken Squad #3) Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. 2016. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  "I got a bad feeling about that new box over there," said Sugar.

Premise/plot: Dirt (Peep), Sugar (Little Boo), Poppy (Poppy), and Sweetie (Sweet Coconut Louise) ARE the chicken squad. Supposedly these chicks are DETECTIVES who solve cases. In this one no one has come to them asking for help. Barbara--their owner--has built a box in her backyard. It is CONFUSING the chicks--greatly. Who is in the box?

My thoughts: This is the third book in the Chicken Squad series. In this one, the four chicks try to piece together the mystery of WHO is in the BOX in the backyard. Is it a real case since no one has come to ask them for help? Since the chicks are just curious themselves? This early reader series is only a mystery series in the very lightest of terms. The characterization has just as much substance as the mysteries--that is it's almost nonexistent. But it's a quick read with a few laughs.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken

The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken. (Chicken Squad #2) Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. 2014. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Dirt. Sugar. Poppy. Sweetie. You lost it. We'll find it.

Premise/plot: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie are the chicken squad--a team of chicks who solve backyard mysteries for fun. This one features a WEIRD BLUE CHICKEN. A blue bird has come to them for help....

My thoughts: It's a quick read. I did like this one more than the first book in the series. (The Blue Bird aka the "weird blue chicken" isn't all that bright and the running gag through this one is that he mixes up inches and feet.) It was enjoyable enough, but overall a bit mindless. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure

The First Misadventure. (Chicken Squad #1) Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. 2014. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Welcome to the yard! Meet the Chicken Squad: Four fuzzy little chicks who should fill their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs but instead spend most of their time looking for trouble and finding it.

Premise/plot: Dirt (Peep), Sugar (Little Boo), Poppy (Poppy), and Sweetie (Sweet Coconut Louise) ARE the chicken squad. In this first adventure--or misadventure--the chicks are hard on a case. A squirrel has come to them for help. He's absolutely terrified of something...but of what?!?! Can these four chicks educate a squirrel in the process of helping him overcome his fear(s)?

My thoughts: This was a quick read. I wanted to love, love, love it because HELLO, they are chickens. But so far it's more of a  LIKE for me. So far I'm having a hard time making distinctions between Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie in terms of personality and character. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Trouble with Chickens

The Trouble with Chickens (J.J. Tully #1) Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. 2011. 120 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a hot, sunny day when I met that crazy chicken.

Premise/plot: J.J. Tully is a former search-and-rescue dog who is kept busy by his owner's "crazy" chickens. In this one, readers meet Moosh (Millicent) and her four chicks (Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie). Two of her chicks have gone MISSING. Can J.J. find them? Are they in danger?

My thoughts: I met J.J. Tully and the chicks not through this one but through a later book series, the Chicken Squad series. That series is narrated mainly by the four chicks. I am enjoying the characters. But I like the Chicken Squad series better. In this one, the characters are still a bit floundering about finding their voices. It was a nice read but not a wonderful one. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Festival of Mud

Board book: Peppa Pig: Festival of Mud. 2019. Scholastic. 12 pages. Scholastic. [Review copy]

First sentence: Peppa is going to the Children's Festival. She's so excited! It's a big outdoor party with lots to see and do.

Premise/plot: Looking for a book that doubles as a toy? Or perhaps you'd prefer a toy that doubles as a book? Do you have a little one who could watch Peppa Pig for hours? This one isn't quite a proper-proper book. It is one that is mainly for PLAYING. It is a Water Wonder book; little ones can "color" each page with water...again and again and again and again.

The narrative--though flimsy--is that Peppa Pig is at a festival with her family and friends. This festival will have them camping overnight.

My thoughts: I do like the show Peppa Pig. I do. Some books are better than others. Some are truly entertaining and worth reading again and again. Other books tend to be more junky. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with activity books to engage little ones. And since it involves WATER and not actual paint, it's not horribly messy and inconvenient.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

We Need More Nuts!

We Need More Nuts! Jonathan Fenske. 2017. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One nut. Two nuts. Three nuts. Four nuts. We have four nuts. WE NEED MORE NUTS! Five and six and seven eight. Fun. Fun. Fun! These nuts are great!

Premise/plot: Two squirrels--one seemingly more enthusiastic than the other--acquire TWENTY-THREE nuts. This is a fun counting book written in rhyme starring two squirrels. It isn't your traditional counting book, not really, it has its quirks. (For example, when the eleventh nut goes missing, he makes his squirrel friend SPIT THEM ALL OUT AND START AGAIN.)

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I think I did end up liking it better than the second book, Please, No More Nuts. I can be a bit judgmental when it comes to books written in rhyme. I'm a picky reader. But Fenske does well here with his rhyme.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Click, Clack, Peep

Click, Clack, Peep! (Ready to Read) Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015/2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Farmer Brown stuck his head out the window. The farm was too quiet. Everyone was watching the egg.

Premise/plot: Farmer Brown is in for a BIG, BIG, BIG surprise. The book opens with the farm animals anxiously waiting the arrival of a new duckling. The book closes with a funny surprise for Farmer Brown. What will the baby duck be like when he arrives?! How will the animals react?!

My thoughts: I really love these characters. I haven't read each and every title in the series. But I should, I really should. I loved this one. I thought it was very funny. I definitely recommend it.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 8, 2019

Pete the Cat's Giant Groovy Book

Pete the Cat's Giant Groovy Book. James Dean. 2019. HarperCollins. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Pete is ready for school.

Premise/plot: There are nine Pete the Cat early readers in this GIANT GROOVY BOOK. Eight of the books have been previously published: Pete the Cat and the Surprise Teacher; Pete The Cat: Sir Pete the Brave; Pete the Cat: Snow Daze; Pete the Cat and the Tip-Top Tree House; Pete the Cat and the Lost Tooth; Pete the Cat's Groovy Bake Sale; Pete the Cat Goes Camping; Pete the Cat and the Cool Caterpillar. The ninth book, the final book, is a brand new Pete the Cat story: Pete the Cat's Funky Family Tree.

For those that are new to the world of Pete the Cat, Pete is a cat that is GROOVY. He first appeared in a series of picture books by Eric Litwin: Pete Cat: I Love My White Shoes; Pete The Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons; Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes; and Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. I believe each of these four picture books have a SONG. (If you haven't heard Pete the Cat and the Four Groovy Buttons you are really missing out. Trust me.)

He has since appeared in many books by the original illustrator, James Dean. (These include picture books and early readers.)

In the first book, Pete's mom is his substitute teacher.
In the second book, readers meet a cat who's a knight.
In the third book, it SNOWS for days on end. Will Pete love staying home from school?!
In the fourth book, Pete plays in a tree house with his friends.
In the fifth book, Pete helps out the tooth fairy.
In the sixth book, Pete has a few mishaps in the kitchen, but, IT'S ALL GOOD, nothing to cry about. Pete comes up with a delicious treat to sell at the bake sale anyway.
In the seventh book, Pete goes camping.
In the eighth book, Pete learns about the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly.

Which brings us to the ninth book....

First sentence: Pete is making a family tree. A family tree is a drawing.  A family tree shows all the people in your family.

My thoughts: I have never really gotten super-attached to the later books starring Pete the Cat written by James Dean. I have come close with titles like PETE THE CAT: SNOW DAZE and PETE THE CAT'S GROOVY BAKE SALE. I really enjoyed the ninth book in the series. I love, love, love, love, love genealogy and family trees.

It was super fun to meet Pete the Cat's ancestors! I loved that Pete made connections between himself and his family--noting what he had in common with them.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Please, No More Nuts

Please, No More Nuts! Jonathan Fenske. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One nut. Two nuts. Three nuts. Four nuts. Here are four nuts. Please take more nuts!

Premise/plot: Two squirrels who are TIRED of nuts try to convince readers to take some nuts.

My thoughts: This one is a follow up to a book titled We Need More Nuts! Sadly, I have not read the first book. Though I put both books on hold on the exact same day. Though both books were listed as being on the shelf. I put off reading....and reviewing...this one for over a week hoping that the first book would appear on my hold shelf. I'm beginning to think it might be shelved in the wrong spot or missing altogether. I might have to go on a book hunt.

As for the book itself, I think it would be a LOT more enjoyable if one was already familiar with these two. I think some of the comedy is lost jumping straight into the second book. That being said, I can see the intent is humor. I do like the rhyming! It's very well done.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Pig, a Fox, and Stinky Socks

A Pig, A Fox, and Stinky Socks. Jonathan Fenske. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am Fox. I am Pig. I am little. I am big. I have some socks. I like to play. I think I will trick Pig today.

Premise/plot: Fox hasn't changed all that much since the first book, A Pig, A Fox, and a Box. Fox still is trying to trick Pig. Fox has STINKY SOCKS this time instead of a box. (Otherwise, it's almost the same book.) There is a box in this one. (I wonder if it's the SAME box?)

My thoughts: For early readers that loved the first book, this one may prove equally enjoyable. I personally find it a bit funnier. (The first book was a bit boring in my opinion.)

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Pig, A Fox, and A Box

A Pig, A Fox, and a Box. Jonathan Fenske. 2015. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am Fox. I am Pig. I am little. I am big. I have a box. I like to play. I think I will trick Pig today.

Premise/plot: Fox has a plan. He is going to trick Pig. Will Pig be fooled? Or will the joke end up being on Fox?! Fox plays two tricks in this one....

My thoughts: Did I enjoy reading A Pig, A Fox, and a Box? Yes and no. No, in that I'm not the intended audience for it, and, it wasn't quite my type of book. I didn't really "like" the illustrations. Yes, in that it was a good, solid book for young readers.

Readers meet two characters: Fox and Pig. Readers quickly see that Fox is tricksy. He is a kidder, a joker. He really, really WANTS to fool his friend, Pig. Time and time again, the joke is on FOX and not Pig after all. So it was FUN in a way.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Knights vs. Monsters

Knights vs. Monsters. Matt Phelan. 2019. 176 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Something lurked in the mist. Something large. Something nasty. Four knights and one young girl stumbled half blind on the dark, misty moor as well.

Premise/plot: Knights vs. Monsters is the sequel to Knights vs. Dinosaurs. Sir Erec, Sir Bors, Sir Hector, the Black Knight, and Archer Mel (formerly Squire Mel) are back for another adventure. This time the adventure that happens is not the work of Merlin, a friend, but the work of an enemy to Arthur's court. Their adventure begins when they board a mystery ship...a ship that takes them to Scotland to face off with an evil, manipulative queen (Morgause). 

 My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I liked the first book well enough, I did, but I enjoyed this one a bit more. Perhaps because it has more characters and is more rooted in King Arthur's time. Perhaps because I'm already familiar with the main characters. I would recommend both books to those who enjoy action and adventure mixed with a large dose of humor.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, July 1, 2019

Knights vs. Dinosaurs

Knights vs. Dinosaurs. Matt Phelan. 2018 [October 23] 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Sir Erec thought the whole thing over, he supposed that he shouldn't have said he'd slain forty dragons.

Premise/plot: Sir Erec is one of King Arthur's knights. When he exaggerates a little too much, Merlin sends him on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to face off with The Terrible Lizard. Three of his fellow knights (Sir Bors, Sir Hector, the Black Knight) and one of the squires (Mel) accompany him to the cave Merlin described. Once there they find a book....and venture outside the cave. The England they know and love is GONE....Merlin has sent them back in see. What kinds of stories will they bring back with them?! That is if they survive....

My thoughts:  For young readers craving action, adventure and humor....I recommend Matt Phelan's new series. This first book is Knights vs. Dinosaurs. These "brave" knights encounter PLENTY of "terrible lizards" (aka dinosaurs.)

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bath Book: Swim with Little Fish!

Swim with Little Fish! Lucy Cousins. 2019. Candlewick Press. 8 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hello! I am Little Fish happy as can be. I love to splash and splish. Come and swim with me!

Premise/plot: Lucy Cousins has several series for children. One of her series stars Little Fish. This book in that series is a bath book. While there are many board books published each year, there aren't as many bath books to be found. In this one, Little Fish swims with his many friends.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I like Little Fish. I do. The book is very colorful and fun.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Dream Big

Board book: Dream Big. Joyce Wan. 2019. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dream big, dream high, dream brave dreams.

Premise/plot: This inspirational board book features female trailblazers--dreamers. Each page features a dream-themed inspiration--"dream wild," "dream probabilities" etc. The illustration provides a clue to the trailblazer. Hidden within each illustration is the name of the woman. The last spread gives mini bios for the women included. (Zaha Hadid, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Valentina Tereshkova, Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall, Florence Griffith Joyner, Eugenie Clark, Frida Kahlo, Ellen Degeneres, Junko Tabei, Rosa Parks, Katherine Johnson, Chien-Shiung Wu, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and "you.")

My thoughts: If they were really going to end the book with a "YOU" message...perhaps a mirror would have been appropriate?! Just a thought. I didn't dislike this one. I didn't. But I didn't love, love, love it either.

The text can easily be read on its own without bringing up the featured real-life women. The amount of detail you want to bring into the conversation is completely up to you--the parent or guardian. The mini biographies give you just the tiniest bit of information. Not nearly enough to educate parents with those they may be unfamiliar with. Yes, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman may be known well enough to further the discussion. But chances are that some of these trailblazers will be new to you. (I don't know about you, but I am not well-versed in architects, mountain climbers, and nuclear physicists.)

I think these women are worthy of talking about, learning about, etc. I'm just not convinced that toddlers and preschoolers are ready to dig in and learn about history in a meaningful way. (The text is simple enough that it's essentially a non-issue unless you want to add your own commentary to the text.)

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Pignic. Matt Phelan. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It's a perfect day for a pignic.

Premise/plot: A family of pigs set out to have a picnic pignic. Will things go smoothly?

My thoughts: This one has super-simple text and a fun story. Little problems never become big ones, there's a solution for every problem. For example, there's no wind to fly the kites?! But no worries! The "big, bad" wolf is there to provide some huffing-puffing wind! Those kites will fly after all!   Sometimes the best things that happen are unplanned.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Pawed Piper

The Pawed Piper. Michelle Robinson. Illustrated by Chinlun Lee. 2019. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I wanted a cat to cuddle. A great big furry fluff ball, like the cat in my book.

Premise/plot: A little girl REALLY wants a cat of her own. She comes up with a plan that seems sure to work...
So I laid a trail. Balls of wool, ribbon...bowls of milk...tiny balls that jingled...and soft cushions. Now, what else do cats like?
But will her plan work? Will a cat turn up at her house, in her room? How many cats will she "catch" in her "trap"? What if ALL the cats in town come?!

My thoughts: One of my favorite books growing up was MILLIONS OF CATS. The Pawed Piper could easily be its successor. I found it to be a delightful read and one that I can't wait to share with the cat-lovers in my life.

The end papers do some foreshadowing on this one! Readers see dozens of LOST CAT posters on the opening end papers.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 24, 2019

Let's Play, Crabby!

Let's Play, Crabby! (Crabby #2) Jonathan Fenske. 2019. Scholastic. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Today is just another day at the beach.

Premise/plot: Jonathan Fenske has a new early reader series starring Crabby and his friends. The first book in the series was Hello, Crabby! The second book is Let's Play, Crabby! In this one, Plankton persists in wanting to play with Crabby. As persistent as Plankton is in their friendship, Crabby is resistant. The first chapter, "The Guess," has them playing GUESS WHO. The second, "The Game" has them playing Simon Says--I mean Crabby Says. The third, "The Other Game" has them playing Hide and Seek. The fourth, "The Other Other Game" has them playing TAG.

My thoughts: BARNACLE IS BORED is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite stories to read aloud. I just love it. I enjoyed Plankton is Pushy. I would definitely recommend this series of books. I liked both Hello, Crabby! and Let's Play, Crabby! I believe other books are soon to be published in this series. Of course, I will read them all. I would love to see Barnacle make a special appearance in the next book. He was sadly missing from Let's Play, Crabby.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Walt's Imagination

Walt's Imagination: The Life of Walt Disney. Doreen Rappaport. Illustrated by John Pomeroy. 2018. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  Walt wandered the family farm and saw rabbits, foxes, raccoons, bobwhites, crows, and cardinals. He bottle-fed his favorite pig, Skinny, and rode hogs into their muddy pigpens.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book biography of Walt Disney. Though Disney movies might appeal to young toddlers and preschoolers, this picture book biography is best shared with elementary-aged readers with a good-sized attention span. It is TEXT-HEAVY.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I loved, loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations. There is a lot of text--as I mentioned above--but it is for the most part interesting. I also love the inclusion of quotes. The first quote is shared on the opening end pages, "I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or sixty." I think children's authors often have the same philosophy.

They sure didn't publish biographies like this when I was a 'young reader.'

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Berenstain Bears' New Baby

The Berenstain Bears' New Baby. Stan & Jan Berenstain. 1974. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Down a sunny dirt road, over a log bridge, up a grassy hill, deep in Bear Country, lived a family of bears--Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Small Bear. They lived in a large tree which Papa Bear had hollowed out and made into a house.

Premise/plot: Small Bear wakes up to discover that his once just-right bed is now too small. Papa Bear and Small Bear go out to the woods to chop down a tree to make a new just-right bed. Mama Bear--still silent--smiles contentedly as they go out for the day. But what will happen to Small Bear's bed?! Could Mama Bear have a secret?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. Sister Bear is adorable as a baby. This is an essential to read if you're going to read any of the books in the series.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

The Bears' Picnic

The Bears' Picnic. Stan and Jan Berenstain. 1966. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mother Bear, put your apron away. We are going to go on a picnic today!

Premise/plot: Papa Bear is treating his family to a lovely picnic. He has the PERFECT spot in mind. Or does he?! Will the Berenstain Bear family EVER get to actually eat their picnic lunch? Or will a series of misadventures prevent them?

My thoughts: I don't remember reading The Bears' Picnic growing up. I think I would have approved! It is in many ways quite similar to the Big Honey Hunt. Mama Bear doesn't say a word in this one. But she doesn't really have to--readers, especially observant readers--will be able to guess how she's feeling and what she's thinking! Perhaps Mama Bear is thinking IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. Maybe. Regardless, this rhyming early reader is a hoot.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bears on Wheels

Bears on Wheels. Stan and Jan Berenstain. 1969. 33 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One bear. One wheel. One bear on one wheel. Two bears on one wheel. Three on one. Four on one.

Premise/plot: Bears ride things on wheels.

My thoughts: This book isn't all that thrilling. It isn't. Perhaps it is super-super easy to read if you're a beginning reader who knows basic sight words. It does end in a crash, boom, bang. Perhaps that could prove thrilling if that's your thing.

What does make this book slightly more thrilling is imagining it being read in a Scottish accent. If Neil Oliver, for example, wanted to narrate this one I'd be okay with that.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Bears Vacation

The Bears' Vacation. Stan and Jan Berenstain. 1968. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hooray! Hooray! We're on our way! Our summer vacation starts today!

Premise/plot: The Berenstain Bear family is on vacation. Pa and Small Bear have many, many adventures--or should I say MISadventures. It all starts with Pa's lectures on how to stay safe. Despite his safety rules, Pa (or Papa Bear) gets into trouble time and time again. He's not so great at following his own advice. OR he's simply not observant and self-aware.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It was funny. All the humor is at Papa Bear's expense. He's just not very bright. It is written in rhyme like the Big Honey Hunt. I am enjoying reading some of these older titles in the series. I do not think I'll bother reading the newer titles.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 14, 2019

Old Hat, New Hat

Old Hat, New Hat. Stan and Jan Berenstain. 1970. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Old hat. Old hat. New hat. New hat. New hat. New hat. New hat.

Premise/plot: A young bear--a bear that may or may not be part of the Berenstain Bear family--goes into a hat store. Will he buy a new hat or decide that his old hat is best?!

My thoughts: I'm not sure if the bear cub in this one is actually-actually Brother Bear. But even if it isn't him, it's likely a chum of his. As I mentioned, this one features a young bear looking for a new hat. Before the book is done, he'll try on EVERY SINGLE HAT in the shop.

This one surprised me. I found it FUN. He has an opinion on EVERY hat he tries on. It was also fun to watch the expressions on the store clerk's face.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Inside, Outside, Upside Down. Stan & Jan Berenstain. 1968. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Going in/ Inside/ Inside a box/ Upside down/

Premise/plot: A young bear cub (whom would later be named "Brother Bear") will have quite an adventure to tell his Mama at the end of the day. His adventure begins when he gets INSIDE a box...

My thoughts: This is an early book in the "series" of the Berenstain Bears. The story it tells--if indeed it tells an actual story--is told SIMPLY with a few words. This was one of the books I had growing up. I never "bonded" with it like I did The Big Honey Hunt.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Athena and the Magic Land (Little Goddess Girls #1)

Athena & The Magic Land (Little Goddess Girls #1) Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. Illustrated by Yuyi Chen. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Tap. Tap. Athena pushed the buttons on the tablet she held.

Premise/plot: Athena, the heroine, is transported from the 'real' world to a magical one--Mount Olympus--in this early chapter book published by Simon & Schuster.

The first chapter is called "Hello Brick Road!" That should give readers a BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG clue as to what the plot is in this one. 

My thoughts: My true first reaction was WHY?!?! I guess I was expecting MORE (actual) Greek mythology and less imitation Wizard of Oz. Because let's be honest, the story, the characters, everything is essentially just a remix of Wizard of Oz. Medusa stars as the Wicked Witch. And she's after the SANDALS with wings that have tied themselves to Athena's feet. Athena, meanwhile, just wants to GO BACK HOME. So she's told by a good goddess--not a good witch--to just follow the road to see the great god, Zeus. She's told she'll make A LOT OF NEW FRIENDS if she stays on the road.

Perhaps if I was seven or eight. Perhaps if the writing was A+++. I don't know. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that as an adult I found this one a little lacking. I am not the target audience. And reading is subjective. There is nothing inappropriate or "wrong" with this one. I am just a little confused as to why this story needs to be retold with "Greek" inspired names.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Board book: Anne's Numbers

Anne's Numbers. Kelly Hill. 2018. 22 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 1 cherry tree

Premise/plot: This concept board book is inspired by L.M. Montgomery's Anne series. The concept being taught is counting one to ten. Anne Shirley can be found in every illustration. The scenes often celebrate nature much like the novels do.
1 cherry tree
2 butterflies
3 stepping stones
4 trees
My thoughts: I find the illustrations cute, precious, adorable, delightful, fun. The text is super-simple and not exactly spectacular. But the illustrations are appealing--at least to adults.

I would recommend this one to parents--probably mothers--who love, love, love, love Anne Shirley.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Board book: Little Book About Colors

A Little Book About Colors (Leo Lionni's Friends). Leo Lionni. Jan Gerardi. 2019. Random House. 28 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Red a bright red balloon

Premise/plot: This board book is inspired by the work of Leo Lionni. As far as I can tell, Lionni did not actually write or illustrate any of the book. It is a concept book teaching colors. It stars Lionni's mice.

My thoughts: I liked this one fine. I think my favorite was GRAY. The accompanying sentence was just one little word: ME! There are only three marks of punctuation in the entire book--two exclamation points and one period. Part of me is annoyed that this board book lacks proper sentences. (I don't think little ones will care about that.)

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bach to the Rescue

Bach to the Rescue. Tom Angleberger. Illustrated by Elio. 2019. Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hey, it's me! Bach, the greatest composer ever! Have I ever told you the story about Goldberg and the Rich Dude Who Couldn't Sleep? It happened about 225 years ago, but I think it's better to start a story like this with Once Upon A Time...

Premise/plot: Is Bach to the Rescue a picture book biography? Probably not technically. The focus is not on Bach's life, or any other person's life, not really. It is a behind-the-scenes story of how Bach composed the Goldberg Variations. Is it a true story? Maybe, maybe not. But it is 'loosely' based on a legend first recorded by Albert Schweitzer. IT may not be a picture book biography, BUT it is without a doubt a lesson on the IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP.

So, because "Rich Dude" couldn't one could sleep....trying to get this guy to sleep each night was a full-time job for many, many, many people. EVERYONE was super-super-super-cranky because they were all sleep-deprived. Can Bach save the day?

My thoughts: I will always be thankful that I read this one. I looked up the Goldberg Variations and I've enjoyed listening to them. I honestly can't imagine trying to fall asleep to many of them. Has this picture book convinced me that Bach is the greatest composer ever....probably not. (I'm Team Mozart.) But it was an entertaining read. IF a reading of this one is paired with the music itself, I could see it being a hit.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Big Honey Hunt

The Big Honey Hunt. Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain. 1962. 72 pages. [Source: Own]

First sentence: We ate our honey. We ate a lot. Now we have no honey in our honey pot.

Premise/plot: When the Berenstain Bear family runs out of honey, what should they do? Well, if they listen to Mama Bear, they'd go to the store and buy some. But is Papa Bear likely to listen to his wife? He thinks the BEST honey to bring home is the kind that they hunt for themselves. So he takes his son along on a bee hunt. But can they find the right kind of tree?

My thoughts: This early reader is BELOVED. It wasn't that I loved, loved, loved the series in general. This was the first book in what would become a series. But it wasn't written--if Wikipedia is to be believed--with a series in mind, let alone a super-super-super long series. But there is just something DELIGHTFUL and FUN about the story. I think the rhythm and rhyme of this one helps make it memorable, quote worthy, a true classic.

I also LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one because just like the bears in this story, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED honey and often found we were running low on honey in our own honey pot. 

Favorite quotes:
Is that a bee?
He went, "Buzz! Buzz!"
He looks like a bee.
Why, yes!
He does.
Are you getting honey?
Are you getting a lot?
Will we take home honey
In our honey pot?
Well, it it looks just so.
And it feels just so.
Looks so. Feels so.
So it's SO!
When a bear is smart,
When a bear is clever,
He never gives up.
And I won't, ever!
The best sort of honey
Never comes from bees.
It comes from a store.
I would like some,

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 6, 2019


Daddy-Sitting. Eve Coy. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Daddy. Today I'm Daddy-sitting.

Premise/plot: A little girl spends a LOVELY day with her Dad.

My thoughts: It had me at hello. My love for this one started early with the END PAPERS. This lovable, adorable, show-stealing cat isn't the one and only reason I adored Eve Coy's Daddy-Sitting. Though spotting the cat on each spread to see what he/she is up to is oh-so-satisfying. (You don't need words to read this cat!)

I loved the relationship between parent and child. It was loving, sweet, tender.

I loved the celebration of the ordinary. This book celebrates the joys of daily family life--mess and all.

I loved reading between the lines. The text tells a definite story. But the illustrations hint at MORE. The narrative shows HER perspective of the day. The illustrations perhaps comes closer to an objective account.

I loved how full of life, full of action, full of IMAGINATION this one is.

I loved how relatable it is.

Also how quotable!
Daddy is very smart. I tell him he can do anything when he grows up. He could be a lion tamer or an astronaut. He could be a famous chocolate maker, or a detective on the case of the missing chocolates...or a nurse treating children who have eaten too much chocolate. 
It's just a joy to read.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers