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Viewing Blog: Children's Book Reviews and Then Some, Most Recent at Top
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As a lover of children's literature, mother and bookseller of 13 years, I want to put good books into kid's hands. I share my philosophy on what makes a book good as well as book reviews and lists of great books for every reading taste and ability with a focus on new readers. I also highlight some wonderful books that are not always on the shelf at bookstores, but might be at your library and can definitely be ordered. All books mentioned are available in paperback unless noted.
Statistics for Children's Book Reviews and Then Some

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 17
1. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett Jon Klassen are the brilliant team that brought us Extra Yarn, winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal. With Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, Barnett and Klassen have created yet another book that readers (and little listeners) will instantly bond with. Seemingly simple, this book will satisfy adults and kids and is sure to get repeated readings wherever it lands, in part because of the wry

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2. Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton

I almost didn't review Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton. I reviewed Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachary Ohara in April of this year and the world play of "wrecks" and "rex" feels a little done. But . . . well . . . Clanton draws a mean monster, an adorable uni-rabbit and an endearing little robot. And then there are the building blocks. Clanton does amazing

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3. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford is a revelation! I had no idea that this structure that I always thought of as a slightly sketchy carnival ride had such an interesting inception and remarkable beginning. When, with only ten months to go before the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a contest is announced inviting Americans to outdo the star

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4. Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, 479 pp, RL 5

Many of you probably know Gregory Maguire as the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I discovered it a year or so after it was published in 1995 in the bargain section of the bookstore where I worked and remember how thrilling it was to read back then. Long a fan of fairy tales, I was amazed to learn that a meal could be made of a behind the scenes, adult

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5. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, 272 pp, RL: YA

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is just flat out brilliant, both for the subject matter and how the author chooses to tell the story.  And in this, Belzhar is ideally pitched to its audience, in tone and content. Even the cover image is perfect! Wolitzer is an award winning writer of books for adults, most recently The Interestings, as well as The Ten Year Nap, which I read and enjoyed immensely.

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6. Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock are the creators of fantastic books about all the things that gigantic, hardworking vehicles specialize in. The illustrations provide all the details little listeners love and the texts are packed with onomatopoetic words that make these books fun to read and especially entertaining. Their newest book, CONSTRUCTION, begins, Dig the ground. Dig the ground.

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7. I'm Brave! by Kate & Jim McMullan

I'm Brave is Kate & Jim McMullan's fifth book about things that go. When I was a book seller, these were my "go to" books for toddlers into all things that go. The McMullan's happen to be among the rare creators of picture books featuring garbage trucks. Considering the fervor with which many toddlers adore garbage trucks, I am always surprised by how few picture books about them are on

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8. Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

In her debut picture book, Oliver, Birgitta Sif explored the experience of an introvert with sensitivity and creativity that resulted in a memorable and worthwhile book. With Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance Sif visits similar, well worn terrain with the same fresh perspective that makes for another memorable picture book. Frances Dean loves to dance, but only when she is all alone.

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9. The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh, 90 pp, RL 2

The Mystery of the Missing Lion is the third book in Alexander McCall Smith's, brilliant chapter book series featuring the childhood incarnation of his adult novel heroine and owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe. The books are marvelously illustrated by Iain McIntosh and are unique when it comes to chapter books for so many reasons - girl detective, set in

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10. Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, RL: 2

I did not want to like The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I am tired of princesses and equally tired of princess backlash. I am weary from trying to excavate and explain the potential of a princess in a plot (see my review of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett) and I am wary of mash-ups that have the air of a Disney enterprise. However, I

0 Comments on Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, RL: 2 as of 10/20/2014 5:06:00 AM
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11. Ivan: The Remarkable Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine ApplegateG. Brian Karas is an invaluable addition to the shelves and ideal companion to Applegate's 2013 Newbery Gold Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan. Written in free verse, The One and Only Ivan is one of a handful of Newbery winners that can be read and understood by younger readers, which is especially nice. Now,

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12. The Worst Witch: To the Rescue by Jill Murphy, 172 pp, RL 3

Originally published in 1974, author Jill Murphy, who was fifteen when she began writing The Worst Witch. The Worst Witch series is beloved in the UK and has been made into a television film and a television series that spawned two spinoff shows. Long before there was Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches where out hero, Mildred Hubble, is a stand out student - a stand out

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13. Eerie Elementary Book 1: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert, illustrations by Sam RIcks, 90 pp, RL: 2

Eerie Elementary by Jack Chabert is yet another fantastic series that's part of Scholastic's much needed Branches line. These books are "specifically designed for newly independent readers who are ready to make the exciting leap from leveled readers, but not quite prepared for a traditional chapter book." In the school where I am a librarian and the majority of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders

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14. I Am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster

I almost didn't review I Am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster on the belief that there is not much new you can do when it comes to a holiday themed picture book. However, Harriet Muncaster does bring something very new and charming to the genre and, technically, I Am a Witch's Cat isn't even really a Halloween book as it does not even mention the holiday. I Am a Witch's Cat begins,

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15. Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season by Jessi Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend, 52 pp, RL 2

Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season is the second book in this series for horse lovers by Jessi Haas and illustrated by Alison Friend. Haas, who has written several other children's books featuring horses and, while this is a lower level book, Haas does not talk down to readers when writing about horses and riding. In the first book in the series, Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl, we learn

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16. The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry, 122 pp, RL 1.5

The Yeti Files series by Kevin Sherry is just about the best thing EVER! Sherry, who is the author of some very funny picture books that I enjoyed reading out loud at story time when I was a bookseller, is perfectly suited to take the helm of an endeavor like this, in terms of illustration style and sense of humor. And his appreciation of large magical and non-magical creatures. Book 1 of

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17. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, 328 pp, RL: YA

For a truly superlative, clear-eyed review of How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, I beg you to read Ann Friedman's review for the New York Times Book Review. Read on for my somewhat personal, reflective, rambling review that is really a thank you, tribute and plea to get everyone to like (and share) the writing of brilliant, funny, articulate women like Moran - and Tina Fey, (Tina, if you

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18. Star Wars: Jedi Academy AND Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan! by Jeffrey Brown, 158 pp, RL 3

Star Wars Reads Day (in schools) IS TODAY!!! Look for nationwide events in libraries & bookstores tomorrow also . . . Click here for more details By now, many of you may of a certain age and state of parenthood should have received or given a copy of Jeffrey Brown's books Darth Vader and Son and/or Vader's Little Princess on Father's Day, Christmas or another gift giving

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19. Elmer by David McKee

In 1998, a board book version of one of the 22 Elmer stories that have been published since the original debuted in 1989 made a road trip with a 9 month old infinitely more bearable. Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is now 25 years old and I am very happy to revisit this book and call attention to what I think can safely be called a classic at this point. McKee's story of acceptance - self

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20. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Leroy Ninker Saddles up is the first in a new series of chapter books from the dynamic duo who brought us stories about a buttered-toast-loving-pet-pig. Fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen's Mercy Watson series of beginning reader chapter books (you can read my review from 2010 here) might remember Leroy Ninker from Book 3, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, in which he was first seen

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21. STAR WARS READS DAY IS OCTOBER 11, 2014!!

  STAR WARS READS III is October 10 (in schools) &  October 11 (in libraries & bookstores) For more info visit: Star Wars Reads Day on Facebook Look for great events at your local  bookstores & libraries, or host your own with these awesome ACTIVITY PAGES!! Participating authors: Jeffrey Brown, author of Star Wars: Jedi Academy and Jedi Academy: Return of the

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22. 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

Little kids love to see their (tiny) world presented to them on the pages of a book. They also love to arrange and organize things, whether it's toy animals, goldfish crackers or twigs. And, they also appreciate a good rhyme. 100 Things that Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz satisfies all three of these with a charm and simplicity that harmonizes with the thoughtful choices and engaging

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23. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

If you don't already have a preschool or school age child, you may not know just how enthralling the story of the Gingerbread Man is to little kids. I think they love this story because it satisfies many of their most basic instincts, drives and interests. There is food, specifically cookies with candy on them. There is a little (cookie) boy behaving badly and being downright sassy. And

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24. Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham

I read and reviewed my first Bob Graham book back in 2010 and have been amazed and delighted by everything he does since then. His newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, is no exception. Graham is a miniaturist with a global vision, a deeply gifted storyteller and a gentle, subtle teacher. Vanilla Ice Cream begins in the heat and dust of India with Annisha and Suhani, who are playing

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25. Druthers by Matt Phelan

I love Matt Phelan. His graphi novels tackle serious, intriguing subjects while preserving a sense of playfulness that takes center stage in the picture books that he illustrates. Druthers, Phelan's newest picture book (and, if I did my research accurately, his first picture book as author and illustrator) is perfectly playful and especially sweet.  It's a rainy day and Penelope has

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