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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

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1. 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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2. 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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3. Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter

Becoming an elementary school librarian has changed the way that I read and think about children's books. Instead of reading to or imagining my own children reading the books I review, I now also think about my students and how they will receive and understand a book. Also, as a librarian, I can encourage (or insist) students read a book that they probably would never pick up on their own.

0 Comments on Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter as of 12/15/2014 6:18:00 AM
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4. Up & Down: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Britta Teckentrup

Britta Teckentrup is one of my new (to me) favorite picture book illustrator/authors. Her work in Busy Bunny Days  and The Odd One Out, which I reviewed earlier this year call to mind the work of Richard Scary and the brightly patterned fabrics of Marimekko. In her newest book (in the U.S.) Teckentrup, who is German but lived in London for almost 20 years, uses her way with patterns and

0 Comments on Up & Down: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Britta Teckentrup as of 12/12/2014 5:40:00 AM
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5. The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty by Karla Strambini

Honestly, Karla Strambini could have created an entirely wordless picture book that didn't even have  a plot and I would have turned the pages just as eagerly - her illustrations are that compelling, that filled with stories of their own. That said, The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty has a wonderful story threaded with themes of creativity, community and creative diversity. I especially love her

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6. Is there a dog in this book? by Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz has long been a favorite of mine. Back in 2008 she introduced us to Moonpie, André and Tiny, a pack of cats in a brilliant lift-the-flap book who, when not hiding invited readers to toss them balls of wool,  open boxes for them to hide in and to blow on the page to try them off after being caught up in a fishy "floodwave" to hilarious ends in There are cats in this book.  In

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7. Tiptop Cat by C. Roger Mader

I love a good cat story, and by that I mean a story in which a cat is behaving (although not necessarily always realistically illustrated) like a real cat, and Tiptop Cat by C. Roger Mader is definitely that!  Tiptop Cat begins, quite simply, "Of all the gifts she got that day, the best on was the cat." Right away, we know that this story is about the cat - people are irrelevant, or at

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8. Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 is the newest book from a longtime favorite of mine, John Hendrix, and the second that Hendrix illustrated and authored himself. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, Herndrix turns his thoughtful eye to a humane moment in the midst of an inhumane period of history, telling the story of the incredible Christmas Truce between

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9. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, 175 pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE

In Real Life by Corey Doctorow (based on his 2004 story, "Anda's Game") and Jen Wang is a captivating book - both in story and illustrations - that you will read through rapidly, wanting to to reach the satisfying ending. In Real Life is also a book you will return to and think about long after you have finished reading. And, if you are like me and know nothing about MMORPGs - massive

0 Comments on In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, 175 pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE as of 12/9/2014 5:13:00 AM
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10. Winterfrost by Michelle Houts, 259pp, RL: 4

Winterfrost  by Michelle Houts features a mythical creature that captured my imagination as a child - gnomes, also known as "nisse." Gnomes was one of the first books I remember purchasing with my own, hard earned money, and I think it also is the first encyclopedic book about a fictional creature. Winterfrost  is a superb story that combines holiday and cultural traditions with a story of

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11. The Great Big DInosaur Treasury: Tales of Adventure and Discovery

Storybook collections were a memorable part of my childhood, but they seemed to be few and far between for my own children. However, over the last couple of years Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been putting out these fantastic treasuries that are an incredible value. The Family Story Book: Tales of Laughter, Curiosity and Fun and The Family Bedtime Treasury: Tales of Sleepy Times and

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12. Here is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal

While I am not Jewish, I believe that all traditions that bring people and families together and remind us of what is important in our lives are of great value. As a children's bookseller and now elementary school librarian, I am always on the lookout for picture books that celebrate all holidays and traditions, especially when they are beautifully illustrated and short enough to be read

0 Comments on Here is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal as of 12/4/2014 4:23:00 AM
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13. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen is a stunning book. Before I could even read a word (and believe me, ever since I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in high school, in which Holden Caulfield discusses the fate of the fish in the lagoon near Central Park South when it freezes over, I have been intrigued by how certain animals survive winter, and was

0 Comments on Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen as of 12/3/2014 3:37:00 AM
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14. A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier

I have been deeply negligent in never reviewing a book by illustrator and author Sergio Ruzzier before now, although I have long loved his work, especially Love You When You Whine by the wonderful Emily Jenkins. And, while I am remiss, I am also thrilled that Ruzzier's new book, the thoughtful, charming A Letter for Leo, is the first of his books I am reviewing here. Leo is a

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15. Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrations by Jamie Zollars, 373 pp, RL: 5

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford, with superb cover art and spot art by Jamie Zollars is THE perfect book for spending time with over winter break, especially if you live in colder climes. The Greenglass House practically demands that you cozy up in a corner, ideally on a high-backed love seat like the one main character Milo often finds himself tucked into, reading The Raconteur's

0 Comments on Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrations by Jamie Zollars, 373 pp, RL: 5 as of 12/1/2014 4:41:00 AM
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16. Little Blue Truck's Christmas by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

I love Jill McElmurry's illustrations, especially her work with Alice Schertle's Little Blue Truck books, that I almost don't even need the words. That said, Schertle is definitely one of the better picture book authors writing in rhyming verse these days. Little Blue Truck's Christmas does not disappoint, McElmurry's illustrations calling to mind a childhood favorite, The Animals' Merry

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17. Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, 49 pp, RL: 3

Theseus and the Minotaur is a new book by beloved French author Yvan Pommaux, known for his detailed research and illustration style, who has won many prestigious awards and had three schools named after him! Theseus and the Minotaur is also a new title from TOON Graphics, a new line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above created by the amazing François Mouly and

0 Comments on Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, 49 pp, RL: 3 as of 11/28/2014 4:54:00 AM
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18. Cast Away on the Letter A : A Philemon Adventure by Fred, translated by Richard Kutner, RL: 3

Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred, the pseudonym of Frédéric Aristidès, creator of one of the most famous graphic novel series in France (did you know that the French have long been huge graphic novel fans?) was originally published in 1972. This is the first time it has been translated in English, thanks to the amazing François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books who are

0 Comments on Cast Away on the Letter A : A Philemon Adventure by Fred, translated by Richard Kutner, RL: 3 as of 11/26/2014 4:44:00 AM
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19. Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgewick, 288 pp, RL: TEEN

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick is the winner of the 2014 Printz Award, the Newbery for Young Adult books. While preparing to write this review, I was taking a look at past winners and surprised by how many of them I have reviewed - and loved - here and also pondering the current trend of adults reading YA literature. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the review for a list of these

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20. Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raúl the Third, RL: 3

Lowriders is Space is the first installment in what I hope will be a long graphic novel series written by Cathy Camper, author, artist and librarian and illustrated by Raúl the Third. Like no graphic novel I have seen before and arriving with a raft of celebrity blurbs from the likes of Jon Scieszcka, Megan McDonald and Amy Sedaris, Lowriders is Space is about three talented friends and

0 Comments on Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raúl the Third, RL: 3 as of 11/17/2014 5:09:00 AM
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21. Through the Woods: Stories by Emily Carroll, 208pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE

Sadly, I am reviewing Through the Woods, stories by Emily Carroll a month too late. I bought this book back in July and Adam Gidwitz's  review in the New York Times in which he reminds us the children like to be scared, should have been another nudge to me. But, creepy ghost stories, especially the graphic novel kind, are good all year round, right? With my students clamoring for scary

0 Comments on Through the Woods: Stories by Emily Carroll, 208pp, RL: MIDDLE GRADE as of 11/18/2014 6:13:00 AM
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22. Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett, illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a fantastic way to get kids interested in science and biology and nonfiction in general. Both the subject matter and the illustrations in Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! are funny and fun, with Bennett's rhyming couplets adding to this seriously silly look at something we all do everyday.

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23. Explorer: The Hidden Doors, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, 128 pp, RL: 3

The Explorer series, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, just keeps getting better. Mystery boxes then lost islands provided the themes of the graphic shorts in he first two books. Now, with hidden doors setting the theme for the third book in the series, imaginations soar even higher, if possible. As always, Kibuishi kicks off the book with a short of his own. "Asteria Crane" will remind you of his

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24. Benny and Penny in Lost and Found! by Geoffrey Hayes, RL: 1.5

Benny and Penny in LOST and FOUND! is the fifth book in this wonderful series of leveled reader graphic novels from Geoffrey Hayes and the amazing people at TOON Books. Hayes's soft, colored pencil illustrations and his big-eyed bickering siblings charmed me from the start. There is something richly old-fashioned and even, if I may say, Beatrix-Potter-esque about the flora and fauna Hayes

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25. Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

Hansel & Gretel, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattiotti is the newest release from TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, launched by the superb François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books. What Gaiman and Mattotti do with a very familiar fairy tale in their rendition is amazing, both for the spare starkness of

0 Comments on Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti as of 11/24/2014 4:48:00 AM
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