Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Board book: Silly Lullaby

Silly Lullaby (Board book) Sandra Boynton. 2019. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Your pajamas are on. There’s a duck on your head. I think that this means you are ready for bed.

Premise/plot: Calling all zoodles and noodles, it’s bedtime! This is a reprint of a book originally published in 1997. If you’re not familiar with Sandra Boynton’s work, this would be a great one to start with!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. It isn’t unusual for bedtime stories to feature lullabies. This one features a very silly lullaby full of silly words and mix-ups. Mix-ups like owls mooing.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Board book: I Love You, Elephant

Board book: I Love You, Elephant ( A Changing Faces Book) Carles Ballesteros. 2019. Abrams. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I love you, Elephant! I love your long trunk! I wish I had a trunk like yours.

Premise/plot: Monkey loves, loves, loves his friends. This board book—featuring changing faces—celebrates friendship and affection.

My thoughts: I have enjoyed many books in the changing faces series. I think my two favorites are Meet Happy Bear and Don’t Wake the Tiger. I wouldn’t list this one as being among my favorite and best. I would still recommend it because even though the story isn’t quite as magical, the novelty of the changing faces is still delightful. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 28, 2019

Board book: Farmblock

Farmblock (Board book) Christopher Franceschelli. Illustrated by Peskimo. 2019. Harry N. Abrams. 92 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Cock-a-doodle-doo! Good morning, ducks! Good morning, farm!

Premise/plot: Does your little one love farm animals? Board books set on the farm featuring farm animals are abundant. Some have a story. Some don’t. Some focus more on concepts: colors, numbers, seasons, etc. The story is very minimal in this one. Through the pages, seasons change. But it doesn’t start off as being an obvious seasons book. It is like the book switches tracks halfway through.

My thoughts: I have read other books In Christopher Franceschelli’s block book series. I typically love them. Sitting down with a new one is usually a joy. I do like this one. I just don’t love it. It is important to keep in mind that I am not the target audience. I think little ones will still enjoy the chunky size, the easy to turn pages, the flips and flaps. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 25, 2019

Time Dogs: Balto and the Race Against Time

Time Dogs: Balto and the Race Against Time. Helen Moss. Illustrated by Misa Saburi. 2019. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I was snoozing on the porch when it all started.

Premise/plot: Five dogs (Baxter, Trevor, Newton, Maia, and Twitch) find themselves traveling back in time when they enter a van that is really an invention—a time machine. This one offers several surprises: the senior dogs find themselves to be young puppies again; they find themselves in a once in a lifetime opportunity for adventure. They arrive in Alaska in 1925. An epidemic is in progress and a much needed serum needs to be transported cross country. Can these pups join a sled team and help save the day?!

My thoughts: If you suspend your disbelief, this one offers a fun escape. I may be an adult, but I appreciate time travel stories for all ages. I love the idea of hooking young readers on this sub genre early on! That being said, there isn’t quite enough development to entertain adults.

The dogs steal the show no doubt. There are humans but think of them more as being like the humans on Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. They have no control or say over what the dogs do. But they are not as helpless or hapless as the humans on Paw Patrol.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I Am So Clever

I Am So Clever. Mario Ramos. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One gloriously sunny morning, the wolf came upon Little Red Riding Hood: “Hello, my dear! How fine you look in that delightful outfit.”

Premise/plot: the wolf never doubts his cleverness in this fairytale remix. This one does offer a twist or two. When the wolf arrives, Grandma is not home. But he does find her nightgown and dons it. Will his disguise fool anyone?! Maybe. Maybe not. But the wolf ends up regretting his decision...

My thoughts: I wanted to love it. I didn’t. I think I picked this one up because of the cover. I loved the expression on his face. The illustrations of the wolf were great. (The people not so much.) The text was translated into English from the French. I liked it well enough. But it didn’t wow me.

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

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Charlie & Mouse Even Better

Charlie & Mouse Even Better (Charlie & Mouse #3) Laurel Snyder. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mom was making pancakes.

Premise/plot: This is the third book starring the oh-so-adorable boys Charlie and Mouse. In this one the family is getting ready to celebrate a birthday—the mom’s birthday. Will the day go smoothly and according to plan?! Or will the day be a bit unconventional?! The chapters are “Pancakes,” “Shopping,” “Helping,” and “Surprise.”

My thoughts: I really loved the first two books in the series. I found them delightful, charming, cute, funny. I definitely enjoyed this one as well. I did. I think I will always read about Charlie and Mouse with a smile on my face. Did I love, love, love this one? I don’t know that I would go so far in my gushing. But I would gush about the series as a whole.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 18, 2019

One Red Sock

One Red Sock. Jennifer Sattler. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: In a big pink chair in a room full of dots...sat a purple hippo wearing one red sock.

Premise/plot: The star of this new picture book is an adorable purple hippo. She is a frustrated hippo. She can’t find a match for her red sock. It is completely missing. So what is a hippo to do?! Will she throw a fit? Have a meltdown? Ask for help? Or brainstorm a solution all her own?

My thoughts: I recommend reading this one at least twice. The first time I read it, I was so wrapped up in the story—including the adorable illustrations—that I completely missed how the rhyming text was planting predictable clues as to what color sock she would try next. I didn’t catch on that this was a color book at all. And I don’t think that is its primary or even secondary purpose. I think the purpose is to teach an important life skill: coping with life when things aren’t perfectly perfect. Sometimes perfect is not going to happen. Sometimes needing something to be perfect causes unnecessary stress. Wearing one red sock and one polka dotted sock isn’t the only right solution, mind you. There could be many different right solutions. I do like that she solved her own problem without too much drama. (That is she doesn’t force her drama on the whole household or the world. She also doesn’t resort to tears and more tears.)

I loved this one. I do wish she had a name, however. I found her a relatable character. Haven’t we all had one red sock days?! It would be super fun to dress up as her.

Text: 5/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Total: 10/10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Once Upon A Goat

Once Upon a Goat. Dan Richards. Illustrated by Eric Barclay. 2019. 34 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a king and queen wished for a child.

Premise/plot: A king and queen wish for a child with hilarious results. Their fairy godmother makes a slight mistake, but not all mistakes are unfortunate.

My thoughts: I love this silly mix-up! I love how having a “child” changes this royal couple....and the royal household! The goat steals the show for sure. This one had me hooked from the end papers on.

Illustrations: 5/5
Total: 10/10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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