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