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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.
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1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups by Stephanie Clarkson & Brigette Barrager

Rare is the princess picture book that I find worth reviewing here. In fact, I even find the "anti-princess" picture books not worth mentioning. However, I LOVE fairy tales and I couldn't resist  reading Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups by Stephanie Clarkson, with illustrations by Brigette Barrager. Clarkson takes four well known fairy tale princesses and imagines them fed up

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2. The Messy Monster Book by Rachel Ortas

The Messy Monster Book by Rachel Ortas had me with the title alone. Even better, I discovered that Ortas is the co-creator and Creative Director of OKIDO, a very cool art and science magazine for kids. Follow the link above and you can see a sample of the bi-monthly, which is packed with activities (experiments, songs, recipes and crafts using cutouts from the magazine and found items) and

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3. Animalium curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom, 112 pp, RL: 2

Animalium, curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom, is the newest, biggest book from the fantastic Big Picture Press and is the first in their "Welcome to the Museum" series of books. It has also made many "best of 2014" book lists. There are hundreds of books about animals out there for kids, but Animalium is set apart - and far above  -from the rest because of the museum concept employed

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4. Blown Away by Rob Biddulph

I fell in love with Blown Away, the debut picture book by Rob Biddulph after only a few page turns. First of all, Biddulph, the award-winning art director for the Observer magazine, has written a rhyming picture book that I actually like! His text is haiku like at times, short bursts of well chosen words. It never feels forced, as so many rhyming stories do, and its simplicity suits the

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5. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, 203 pp, RL 4

**This book really got my wheels spinning and I found that I had a lot to say about it before even getting to the plot. Skip to the third paragraph if that is what you came for...** Despite my love of girl detectives and historical England, I have to admit that I felt a bit more skeptical than excited when The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone arrived at

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6. Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke has written a picture book! Julia's House of Lost Creatures has all that makes his graphic novel trilogy, Zita the Spacegirl, Legends of Zita and The Return of Zita, absolutely winning - strong girl character, cute (and sometimes creepy) creatures and a strong sense of family - and more. Hatke begins Julia's House of Lost Creatures with the sentence, "Julia's house came to

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7. A Possum's Tail by Gabby Dawnay & Alex Barrow

A Possum's Tale by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow is a gem of a book that reveals something new with every reading. Both work for the very cool OKIDO, the Arts & Science Magazine for Kids, where Barrow is the Art Director and Dawnay is a contributor. Set in a 1950s London A Possum's Tale begins with Samuel Drew and his dog (a wooden toy dog on a string) out for a stroll. Samuel passes

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8. The Big Blue Thing on the Hill by Yuval Zommer

The Big Blue Thing on the Hill is by Yuval Zommer, who comes to the world of picture books after many years as a creative director at some of the world's top advertising agencies. His debut is wonderful, and the story reminds me of a bit of the picture books of the environmentally conscious, animal friendly Bill Peet. Zommer's illustrations are full of energy and a little bit kooky,

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9. The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, 224 pp, RL 4

  The Terrible Two is the first book in new series created by authors with serious pedigrees in kid's books and humor, Mac Barnett and Jory John and perfectly, illustrated by self-proclaimed "mediocre illustrator and humorist," Kevin Cornell. As a parent, bookseller, composer of personalized book lists and librarian, I get asked for funny books all the time. Unfortunately, writing (good)

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10. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, 371 pp, RL: TEEN

Back in 2011 I bought the sky is everywhere , the debut novel by Jandy Nelson, when it came out in paperback. She graduated from the high school my kids go to and I was curious. Like so many books I buy, I still have not (but I will, I will!) read it. When I saw  Nelson's newest book, I'll Give You the Sun, I was enthralled by the cover art and impressed by this bold choice for a YA book. A

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11. Worst in Show by William Bee, illustrated by Kate Hindley

  Worst in Show is the newest picture book from a favorite of mine, William Bee, this time illustrated by the marvelous Kate Hindley. With  Worst in Show Bee substitutes hairy, hideous monsters for pure bred dogs groomed to within an inch of their life. The juxtaposition is perfect, as are Hindley's magnificently detailed illustrations. There is so much to look at on every page, from the

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12. The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

A longtime fan of The Office (both versions), I was very excited when I discovered that B. J. Novak, writer, actor and executive producer of the show, wrote a book of short stories, One More Thing. And I bought it and it is very good, just as I anticipated. I was very surprised when I learned that B.J. Novak had written a picture book. I am prepared to gape in awe and wonder when someone  

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13. Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for all the Letters by Oliver Jeffers, 112 pp

Oliver Jeffers has a weird sensibility for a picture book author and illustrator. The thing is, he has an effortlessly amiable way with weird, whether it is a boy who discovers he gets smarter when he eats books, a stoically lost penguin or a kid who tosses a number of increasingly huge (and impossible) items into a tree to dislodge his kite. Jeffers's sparse illustrations are populated with

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14. A Rough Year for Reading in 2014, Reading Goals for 2015 & THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!

While compiling my Best of 2014 lists for last year, I was disappointed by what I had read and reviewed, overall. Granted, it was a very tough year. I was helping my partially-healed daughter return to college after a serious injury. I was grieving the loss of my dream job with a literary agent while doing the hard work of taking library technology classes and working as a library substitute

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15. Children's Publishers Choose Their Favorite Reads of 2014 at Publishers Weekly

I suppose it goes without saying that I am a person who reads a lot. I remember the thrill I felt when, about 20 years ago when I started working as a children's bookseller and discovered that, not only did I find reading children's literature satisfying, I could finish a book quicker, meaning I could read even more. When I started my blog in 2008 my reading took on a new purpose and fervor. My

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16. 2014: Best Picture Books I Read & Books My Students Loved

2014: Funniest Picture Books   Thank You, Octopus  by Darren Farrell   Shh! We Have a Plan   by Chris Haughton Sam & Dave Dig a Hole  by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen  My Top 10 Favorites Picture Books of 2014   Blue on Blue   by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes    100 Things that Make Me Happy  by Amy Schwartz   Vanilla Ice

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17. 2014: Best Chapter Books, Middle Grade & Graphic Novels I Read

BEST CHAPTER BOOKS   The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry   The Princess in Black   by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by  LeUyen Pham   Leroy Ninker Saddles Up  by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen   Digby O'Day In the Fast Lane  by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy The Miniature World of Marvin & James  by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

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18. Children's Fashion of the Russian Empire by Alexander Vasiliev, 223 pp, RL 4

Children's Fashion of the Russian Empire by Alexander Vasiliev is a fascinating pictorial look that spans fifty years, beginning in 1860 and ending in the 1910s. In the Author's Note, Vasiliev explains that, in the 1850s, photographic cartes de visites - photographs glued onto small pieces of card - became popular and prolific among the "gentry, the urban bourgeoisie and the petty

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19. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton,

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes is the newest book from zoologist and children's book author extraordinaire, Nicola Davies. As always, Davies is paired with a wonderful illustrator, this time Emily Sutton, who brings wonderful detail and engaging colors to this look at the smallest of living things. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes is sure to start conversations the minute you

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20. Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page,

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have a talent for presenting the animal world in endlessly interesting ways for readers young and old, as they prove once again with Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do. Jenkins's colorful collage-style illustrations get up close and personal with the sometimes strange faces of animals from all over the world in this new book,

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21. Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George, paintings by Wendell Minor

Happily for us, Jean Craighead George, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, worked right up to the end of her long, well travelled life. George, a naturalist who was known for imbuing her books with science and nature and illustrated many of her own books, worked often with artist Wendell Minor, who wrote this wonderful tribute to her. Galápagos George is their final collaboration. 

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22. Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny, 355 pp, RL 4

Full disclosure here:  I have been a fan of Jason Segel's since watching the television show Freaks & Geeks ages ago. Having grown up with the Muppets, I was further impressed by Segel when I heard an interview in which he spoke passionately and thoughtfully about co-writing and acting in the Muppets revival movie. This, along with the fact that Segel had the good sense to team up with

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23. Saturn Could Sail and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon

Saturn Could Sail and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon, is part of a fantastic, fact filled series of non-fiction picture books published by Simon & Schuster called "Did You Know?" Oswald and Spurgeon, who worked on the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, are the perfect illustrators for this kind of non-fiction

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24. Human Body: Information Graphics by Peter Grundy

Infographics: Human Body by data journalist Simon Rogers and graphic artist Peter Grundy is the second book in a great new series from the fantastic folks at Big Picture Press. Infographics: Animal Kingdom came out earlier this year and is seeing a lot of action in my school library. Rogers has a way with collecting information that is out of the ordinary while covering familiar ground at

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25. Blue on Blue by Dianne White and Beth Krommes

Blue on Blue is a poetic meditation on nature and the weather written by Dianne White and illustrated by Caldecott winner Beth Krommes that is an absolute joy to read. Having read picture books out for more than twenty years professionally and parentally, I have come to have very high standards for rhyming picture books. My year as an assistant to a literary agent cemented my belief that

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