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 time....you 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

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 sleep....no 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,
Please. 




© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Daddy-Sitting

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Rabbit, The Dark, and the Cookie Tin

The Rabbit, the Dark, and the Cookie Tin. Nicola O'Byrne. 2019. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there was a rabbit who didn't want to go to sleep. "Oh, no!" squeaked Rabbit when it started to get dark. "I'm not tired and I don't want to go to bed!" Then a bright idea popped into his head. "I don't want to go to bed," said Rabbit, "and if it doesn't get dark, I won't have to."

Premise/plot: Rabbit IS NOT tired. Rabbit IS NOT cranky. Rabbit IS clever, right?! I mean who else would think up a way to TRAP THE DARKNESS to put off bedtime?!?!

My thoughts: I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this story. It is a PROPER story. I love the play between Rabbit and the Dark--their dialogue/conversation. It's just a super-fun and delightful read. It probably isn't a bedtime story that will make your little ones sleepy. It probably is a story-time story that will make you LAUGH.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Board book: Future Astronaut

Future Astronaut. Lori Alexander. Illustrated by Allison Black. 2019. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Ground control to Major Baby: Could you be an astronaut?

Premise/plot: Does BABY have what it takes to be an astronaut? Through a series of checks, BABY is put to the test. 
Astronauts can swim--even in their flight gear.
Baby swims with gear, too.
Astronauts live and work in small spaces.
Small spaces are Baby's favorite places!
My thoughts: I thought this one was ADORABLE and FACT-FILLED. I enjoyed reading it.

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


© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 3, 2019

Beware of the Crocodile

Beware of the Crocodile. Martin Jenkins. Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. 2019. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If there's one thing you should know about crocodiles, it's that they've really scary--or at least the big ones are. They've got an awful lot of teeth.

Premise/plot: This is a nonfiction book about crocodiles. It opens with a crocodile getting ready--waiting--to eat...
Sooner or later, something passing by, something with a bit of meat on it, will decide that it's thirsty and needs a drink. And then? Then they'll be a sudden lunge and a tremendous splash. And then? Oh, dear. What happens next is rather gruesome. In fact it's so gruesome that we should skip the details. Let's just say there's a lot of twirling and thrashing, and then things go a bit quiet.
It also includes details on the life cycle of the crocodile. 

My thoughts:  I am not a crocodile enthusiast--or a reptile one either for that matter. This one has a narrative style that is far from dry. But even so I can't say that this is an incredible, must-read for story time for little ones. I think for those that are super-curious about wild animals this one would definitely hold some appeal.

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


© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sprinkle Sundays #5 Sprinkles Before Sweethearts

Sprinkles Before Sweethearts. (Sprinkle Sundays #5) Coco Simon. 2018. [December] Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Lunch is gross today," I said, lifting a piece of limp iceberg lettuce and letting it drop to my plate. I sighed and rubbed my eyes.

Premise/plot: Sprinkles Before Sweethearts is the fifth book in the Sprinkle Sundays series by Coco Simon. In the first book, Allie's parents get divorced. Allie moves with her mom and brother to a nearby town. She misses her best friends Tamiko and Sierra very much. Fortunately, these three friends find a way to be together each and every week by working together in her mom's ice cream shop. The books alternate main characters or narrators. This is Tamiko's second title to narrate. (She was the narrator of the second book, Cracks in the Cone.)

In this book, Tamiko is SUPER FRUSTRATED that she's "surrounded" by people with crushes. She doesn't want to be around boy-crazy or girl-crazy classmates or friends. Why should she want a "sweetheart"?!?!

At the shop, the mom is struggling now that it's closer to fall/winter to keep customers coming to the ice cream shop. Perhaps the answer is new flavors, kid-friendly flavors of course. Maybe if she allows her three tween employees to taste-test all the flavors (so they can better "sell" the product), try new sundaes (so the ice cream won't get "old") and pay for them to go to the amusement park so they can observe what food stands are busiest and what foods are most popular. She pays for them to try all the foods. They can report back with ideas on what flavors she should try to make next.

At school, Tamiko is struggling to come up with an idea for a science class project and with having to draw a BOY in art class.

My thoughts: I enjoy this series. It is definitely taking me back to my own series-binging days of Babysitters Club. There is so much that is not realistic (I hope!) about this series. One scene that was driving me a bit crazy was when the three kids EXPERIMENT WITH FLAVORS THEMSELVES AND MAKE SEVERAL ICE CREAMS FOR THE MOM TO TASTE-TEST. They are using her ingredients (which cost money), her kitchen... without any knowledge or experience of HOW TO ACTUALLY MAKE ice cream. They are essentially throwing money out the window all under the delusion that they are HELPING. Their ice cream flavors are horrendous. And she tells them to NOT try to make their own flavors in the future. But still. Shouldn't they know better without having to be told?!?!



© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Chicks and Salsa

Chicks and Salsa. Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Paulette Bogan. 2005. Bloomsbury. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There were grumblings in the henhouse of Nuthatcher Farm. The chickens were tired of chicken feed. The rooster took it upon himself to solve this problem. Mrs. Nuthatcher, the farmer's wife, had started watching cooking shows in the afternoons. The rooster was perched on a fence post outside the farmhouse window when he discovered the solution to his problem...salsa!

Premise/plot: Things at Nuthatcher Farm are about to get SPICY. It all begins with chickens who are BORED with their chicken feed. But this discontent soon spreads far and wide...will the Rooster be able to keep saving the day?!

My thoughts: I absolutely LOVED this one. I did. It was cute and funny. I loved the narration, the writing.
Led by the rooster, the chickens crept into the garden, where they took tomatoes and uprooted onions. That night, the chickens ate chips and salsa--though nobody was quite certain where the chickens got the chips. The tasty tang of tomatoes and onions hung over the barnyard. And the rooster said, "Olé!" 
This is a treat of a book.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Board book: Scratchie: A Touch and Feel Cat-Venture

Scratchie:  A Touch-and-Feel Cat-Venture. Maria Putri. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 2019. 24 pages.

First sentence: Hi there, human! I'm Scratchie, the cat. And just like my name, I like to scratch stuff to keep my claws super sharp! Let's scratch things together.

Premise/plot: Touch-and-feel board books are nothing new or particularly unique. But this one has a fun premise. It is inviting readers to SCRATCH things along with the cat hero, Scratchie.

My thoughts: Don't expect the objects that you are "scratching" (aka touching/feeling) to remotely feel like what they are supposed to be. With a few minor exceptions. The textures aren't bad; they just don't correlate with their objects. Probably my favorite textures were the one on the cover and the "paper towel" (aka wash rag.)

I love the premise of this one. I do. But I was slightly disappointed. This does not mean that little ones won't like it.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Board book: Twinkle, Twinkle Dinosaur

Twinkle, Twinkle, Dinosaur. Jeffrey Burton. Illustrated by Zoe Waring. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: Twinkle, twinkle, dinosaur, how I love to hear you roar.

Premise/plot: This is a rhyming board book starring dinosaurs. It is loosely inspired by the children's classic "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

My thoughts: Probably the best thing about this one is how thick and sturdy the pages are. Board books have thicker pages, of course, that's what makes them board books. But these are extra-super-thick pages. And the pages do not stick together. Of course, in a perfect world, all board books would have pages that easily turn and never get stuck. But the world we live in, alas, is fallen. This one I thought was better than most in that regards.

As for the actual content, well, I'm no dinosaur enthusiast. Little ones who love, love, love dinosaurs will certainly find it more appealing. The rhyming and rhythm of this one did not annoy me which must mean it gets it right.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 27, 2019

Mercy Watson Goes for A Ride

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2006. Candlewick Press. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy. Every Saturday, Mrs. Watson makes a special lunch.

Premise/plot: Mr. Watson loves driving fast almost as much as Mercy loves eating buttered-toast. On Saturday, this father-daughter duo enjoy spending time together. First, they go for a drive. Mr. Watson drives. Mercy Watson rides. That is how it is supposed to go. But one Saturday, well, Mercy Watson gets the notion--reckless or not--that SHE is going to take Mr. Watson for the ride. She wants to be the one DRIVING super-speedy-fast. That just happens to be the day that one of their neighbors decides to join in the fun...

My thoughts: Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride is the second in Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series for young readers. The books are short and funny. If you like quirky. Because even though these books may be for younger readers--a younger audience than Tales of Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane--DiCamillo still brings quirky characters to life, still brings plenty of humor. I liked the introduction of Officer Tomilello. I think he is great fun!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Mercy Watson to the Rescue. (Mercy Watson #1) Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2005. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson have a pig named Mercy.

Premise/plot: Can a pig save her human 'parents'? That is the question raised in Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson To The Rescue. Why do Mr. and Mrs. Watson need to be rescued? Well, Mercy herself--if she could do more than oink--might tell you if you could get her mind off food. You see, it all starts one night when Mercy becomes frightened. She runs and jumps in the Watsons' bed. And there the trouble starts. All three are sleeping, dreaming busy little dreams, unaware that danger is lurking!

What does Mercy dream of? Whether asleep or awake, Mercy's mind is always, always on food. In particular, her favorite food, lovely buttered toast. But can Mercy's weakness lead to some saving strength?

My thoughts: I enjoyed rereading this first book in the series. It has been nine years since I first read through the Mercy Watson chapter book series for young readers. Mercy is certainly a memorable character with a one-track mind. She loves, loves, loves buttered toast. If she can't have that treat, then another may do just as well.

I enjoyed meeting the neighbors as well. I liked that they inadvertently help save the day.   

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Marvelous, Amazing, Pig-tastic Gracie LaRoo

The Marvelous, Amazing, Pig-Tastic Gracie LaRoo. Marsha Qualey. Illustrated by Kristyna Litten. 2018. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Gracie LaRoo was in the air.

Premise/plot: The Marvelous, Amazing, Pig-Tastic Gracie LaRoo is a collection of four early chapter books. It contains Gracie LaRoo at Pig Jubilee, Gracie LaRoo on the Big Screen, Gracie LaRoo Sets Sail, and Gracie LaRoo Goes to School. Each contains four chapters.

In the first story, Gracie Laroo at Pig Jubilee, readers meet Gracie LaRoo. She's the youngest member of a world-famous synchronized swimming team--the Water Sprites. The team is getting ready to perform at a global competition. Will they win? Will they lose? If they lose will it be Gracie LaRoo's fault?

In the second story, Gracie LaRoo is getting ready to make a guest appearance in her first movie. Will filming go as planned? The director has a definite vision of how the shoot is supposed to go...but things don't go all that smoothly. Can Gracie live up to expectations?

In the third story, the Water Sprites have a gig on a cruise ship. But will the audience love them or hate them? Will the team be fired after a very disappointing first performance?

In the fourth story, Gracie LaRoo is returning to her old school. Not as a student, mind you, but as a guest speaker. Will she be intimidated by her former principal and teachers? Or will she find a way to shine?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I thought the illustrations were super-adorable. Some of the stories I loved, loved, loved. Others I liked well enough. Overall, I think the book has more strengths than weaknesses.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, May 23, 2019

If You Love Dolphins, You Could Be...

If You Love Dolphins, You Could Be... May Nakamura. Illustrated by Matalie Kwee. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Do you love dolphins and other marine animals? Do you enjoy going to the beach and visiting aquariums?

Premise/plot: This is a nonfiction level two reader in a new series published by Simon & Schuster. The premise is simple: if you love dolphins, you could grow up to be... an aquatic veterinarian, a marine biologist, an underwater filmmaker. There's a chapter with loads of details for each job possibility.

My thoughts: I like both this one and If You Love Video Games, You Could Be... Both books, I believe, have great kid appeal. Nonfiction has certainly come a long way from when I was a kid.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

If You Love Video Games You Could Be...

If You Love Video Games You Could Be... Thea Feldman. Illustrated by Natalie Kwee. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Do you love playing video games? If so you know that anything is possible when you're gaming. You can solve puzzles, fight monsters, and even build imaginary worlds.

Premise/plot: This is a nonfiction level two reader in a new series published by Simon & Schuster. The premise is simple: if you love video games, you could grow up to be... a video game writer, a video game animator, or a video game programmer. Each chapter includes details about that job.

My thoughts: I liked this one very much. I could see it appealing to children. Many--if not most--do love playing video games.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Piglet Named Mercy

A Piglet Named Mercy. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2019. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson lived in a house on Deckawoo Drive. Deckawoo Drive was an ordinary street in an ordinary town.

Premise/plot: A Piglet Named Mercy is a picture book prequel to Kate DiCamillo's early chapter book series starring Mercy Watson. It is the origin story, if you will.

My thoughts: Does loving A Piglet Named Mercy depend upon loving other titles in the series? I can't adequately answer that I suppose. I have not read all the books in the series. And what I have read was so long ago that I barely remember the details of the books. But what I do recall--though vague and fuzzy--is being charmed and delighted. I can tell you that reading A Piglet Named Mercy has me wanting to read--or in some cases reread--the chapter book titles.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Harold & Hog Pretend for Real

Harold & Hog Pretend for Real. Dan Santat. 2019. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hey, Hog! Let's pretend to be Elephant and Piggie!

Premise/plot: Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! is one of the books in the series Elephant & Piggie Like Reading. The books in this series are introduced by...you guessed it...Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie. In this one, two best friends Hog and Harold decide (though one of them reluctantly) to play pretend. They will PRETEND to be two of their favorite characters Gerald and Piggie. But there's a slight problem to this imaginative role play. Harold is NOTHING like Gerald. Hog is nothing like Piggie. Can these two figure out a way to make this role play work?

My thoughts: I love, love, love, love Elephant and Piggie. Probably even more than Harold and Hog do. Probably. Mo Willems' books have a tendency to make me gushy and wave my arms about when I book talk them. (And believe me I do book talk them.) So I love, love, love the idea of these characters playing pretend and "becoming" their favorite characters. These two know their characters. And just like the Elephant and Piggie books these two will have to problem solve together to find a solution. So in many ways, the two pairs of friends are quite similar. Speaking of solutions, I absolutely love the solution these two come up with!!! And I love how Gerald and Piggie pop back up at the end of the book. It's just a hoot!



© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chicken in Charge

Chicken in Charge. Adam Lehrhaupt. Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2019. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "The farmer is away," said Sam. "Who is caring for the new lambs?" "I am!" said Zoey. "This chicken is in charge!"

Premise/plot: Have you met Zoey the chicken yet? She's starred in Chicken in Space, Chicken in School, Chicken in Mittens, and Chicken on Vacation--some of these are picture books and others are early readers. Zoey is a hoot of a character. She's a chicken who marches to her own drum. In this adventure, she's in charge of the lambs...

My thoughts: I LOVE Zoey. I do. Perhaps love is a strong word to use for an early reader, after all how entertaining can an early reader hope to be in the grand scheme of things? VERY. Or perhaps I just have a weakness for Lehrhaupt's sense of humor.

I think my FAVORITE, FAVORITE part was when Zoey reads the lambs to sleep...or tries to! She reads them CHICKEN IN SPACE and CHICKEN IN SCHOOL. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, May 17, 2019

Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil Degrasse Tyson

Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil Degrasse Tyson. Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. 2018. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  Our universe began its dance with what scientists call the Big Bang.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book biography of Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

My thoughts: I like this one. I don't love, love, love it. Perhaps because of all the big bang theory stuff at the very beginning. But his biography is interesting. I don't love the illustrations. I thought they were semi-realistic--somewhere between cartoonish and realistic. I would say the humans were drawn fun-house mirror style. This bothered me more than it should have.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mimi's Adventures in Baking Gingerbread Men

Mimi's Adventures in Baking Gingerbread Men. Alyssa Gangeri. Illustrated by Chiara Civati. 2015. 38 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Mimi, time to wake up!" Mimi peeked out the window and saw..."SNOW! MOM! It's a snow day!" She yelled as she rushed downstairs.

Premise/plot: A little girl bakes gingerbread cookies with her grandmother on a snowy winter's day.

My thoughts: Baking can be fun. And few things are more fun for a child than baking with a beloved adult. In this case, it's NONNI. Simple baking techniques are shown in this one.

Overall, I liked this one. The story is the most thrilling but it does try to capture the joy of an experience that actually is thrilling.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mimi's Adventures in Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mimi's Adventures in Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies. Alyssa Gangeri. Illustrated by Chiara Civati. 2015. 38 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mimi dreamed of fluffy clouds of flour floating over mountains of chocolate chips with untouched ski slopes of sugar...when she woke up, Mimi knew exactly what she wanted to do. "Nonni, can we please bake chocolate chip cookies? I've been dreaming about the ingredients all night!" Nonni pulled out her giant cookbook and they searched for the recipe.

Premise/plot: A little girl bakes chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother. There is a light story driven by the recipe and the baking process.

My thoughts: Baking can be fun. And few things are more fun for a child than baking with a beloved adult. In this case, it's NONNI. Simple baking techniques are shown in this one. For example, how to read a recipe, how to measure, how to mix, how to crack an egg, etc.
Mimi measured 1 cup of chocolate chips and poured them in a bowl. Then she measured a 1/2 cup. "Now we need 3/4 cup of granulated sugar," said Nonni. "Three of these?" asked Mimi with a 1/4 cup measure in hand. "Yes, three of those." 
Overall, I liked this one. The story is the most thrilling but it does try to capture the joy of an experience that actually is thrilling.

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


© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers