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