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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. 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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2. Mini Myths: Play Nice, HERCULES! and Be Patient, PANDORA! by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli

Mythology for toddlers? No matter what your opinion on this subject, Joan Holub, prolific children's book author and creator of the Goddess Girls series of chapter books, the sixteenth book of which will be published soon and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli, creator of a hilarious, very fun series of board books (see below) are the perfect pair to have a go at this concept. Mini Myths, a

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3. Digby O'Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vuillamy, 96 pp, RL 2

Shirley Hughes is a Grande Dame of British children's literature, her 1977 picture book, Dogger, which she wrote and illustrated won the Kate Greenaway Award (the British Caldecott) that year and, in 2007 it won the public vote of best Greenaway every. Hughes has teamed up with her daughter, Clara Vuillamy, a fantastic picture book illustrator and author in her own right, to create a

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4. Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Shh! We Have a Plan is Chris Haughton's third picture book and the third book of his I have reviewed. The palette Haughton used in his first book, Little Owl Lost, caught my attention right away. Haughton's choice of potent colors, the kind you might be more likely to find in 1960s décor than a children's book drew me in. But it is his skill at story telling, both with words and pictures,

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5. Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

I became an instant fan of artist Christopher Silas Neal after reading Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals' Lives, a fantastic non-fiction book, by Lola M. Schaefer. His newest book, Go to Sleep, Little Farm, writtenMary Lyn Ray, is another visual treat. While the illustrations, which often play nicely against the text, may be a bit stronger than the writing, there is much to enchant

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6. Baby's First Book Blocks by Dan Stiles

It still surprises me how much pleasure I get from a really good board book. Something about the synthesis of form and function and the combination of concept and presentation, perfectly balanced for little hands, eyes and brains is exciting. I also find myself surprised, after 21 years of parenthood and 18 years of bookselling, that there are still exciting new board books being published

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7. Big Whoop! by Maxine Lee

Big Whoop! is the second picture book by illustrator, graphic designer and author Maxine Lee. It's also another great kids book from Pow!, a new, independent publisher dedicated to publishing "visually driven, imagination-fuelled" books that combine an "offbeat or humorous sensibility with outstanding design that delight children and grown-ups equally." Big Whoop! is definitely filled with an

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8. Oh, Baby! by Chad Geran

As a parent and bookseller, one thing I learned more than 20 years ago is that babies love to look at pictures of other babies. Yet, as a bookseller I was continually perplexed by the scarcity of board books featuring babies - human babies, not cute animals. This alone could have me excited about Chad Geran's new board book, Oh, Baby!, published by Pow!, a new, independent publisher 

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9. Quest, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

Journey by Aaron Becker was definitely one of the most exciting picture books of 2013 and I was thrilled when it won a Caldecott Honor in January of this year. As someone who has read books out loud professionally and parentally for over 20 years and as someone who holds a deep appreciation for picture book illustrations, wordless picture books have always held a special place in my heart.

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10. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, 170 pp, RL 3

With the new live action movie coming out at the end of this year, there is a renewed interest in Paddington, the wayward bear from Darkest Peru. The Paddington Treasury, a collection of six picture book stories about Paddington and the Browns, the family that finds him at Paddington Station in London and takes him in, is a new, lovely collection with illustrations by American R.W. Alley,

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11. The Paddington Treasury : Six Classic Bedtime Stories by Michael Bon, illustrated by R.W. Alley

Paddington in picture book version is illustrated by R.W. Alley, an American who has spent the last 15 years updating and creating new illustrations for Michael Bond's bear. Although the stories are set in London, Alley's illustrations strike me as cheerfully American when compared to Peggy Fortnum's expressionistic pen and ink illustrations for the chapter books. But I tend to be the

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12. Littleland Around the World by Marion Billet

As a bookseller and parent, I was always surprised by the lack of Look-and-Find books for kids who weren't quiet ready for the intensity of the Where's Waldo books. Which is why I was so excited when I discovered Marion Billet's Littleland last year! And now we have Littleland: Around the World to add to the growing list of Look-and-Find books for toddlers. Billet's illustrations are bright

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13. Color for Baby: Four board books for baby featuring more than forty famous works by contemporary artists, Curated by Yana Peel

I'm not sure how much parents are thinking about cultural literacy when they are purchasing board books for toddlers. If this is something that matters to you or if you appreciate contemporary art, then you will seek out Color for Baby: Four board books for baby featuring more than forty famous works by contemporary artists, Curated by Yana Peel. If not, and you are fortunate enough to be

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14. Giant Vehicles by Rod Green, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Giant Vehicles is the fantastic new book by Rod Green, illustrated by the master of cross-sections, Stephen Biesty. Eight enormous, real-life vehicles. From the Super Train to the Airbus A380 to the biggest helicopter, rocket, cruise ship, submarine, container ship and, of course, the massive dump truck on the cover, a Caterpillar 797F. Although this is a board book with flaps to

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15. Very Little Red Riding Hood by Heapy & Heap

Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy, illustrated by Sue Heap, is the first in a series of picture books that re-imagines classic fairy tales with toddlers as the stars. When you think about it, this is a pretty good idea since kids are fascinated with fairy tales from a very young age. The problem is, when you don't Disney-fy the classics, the can be a bit dark for the littlest

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16. Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows, 278 pp, RL: 4

You probably know Annie Barrows for her fantastic ivy + bean series, now 10 books strong (you can read my review here) but my first introduction to Annie Barrows was when I reviewed her book The Magic Half in 2010. Published in 2007, this story captured my imagination and has stayed with me. I was THRILLED when I learned that Barrows was working on a sequel and am happy to say that it's

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17. Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine is a new, non-fiction picture book by Gloria Whelan, superbly illustrated Nancy Carpenter. Whelan, who is now in her 90s, is the author of several books for young readers, many of which are historical fiction that take place all over the world. While I have only read a handful of her books, I have loved and been moved by each and every one. You can read my

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18. Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen, 343 pp, RL: TEEN

After reading my review, be sure to read my interview with Michelle Knudsen here! When I heard the title of Michelle Knudsen's new novel, Evil Librarian, I got really excited. I didn't even need to know what the plot was, the mere idea of a  character who is a high school librarian AND a demon is hands-down awesome. Happily, Knudsen brings so much to the plot of this supernatural story,

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19. Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Happily, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, the dynamic duo who brought us Iggy Peck, Architect Rosie Revere, Engineer, have teamed up again for the delightful Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau. Even better, as I learned in the Artist's Note, David Roberts worked as a milliner himself for many years before turning his hand to illustration. Roberts shares that he has a "particular appreciation for

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20. El Deafo by Cece Bell, 233 pp, RL: 4

Cece Bell's graphic novel memoir, El Deafo, with color by David Lasky, tells the story of losing 80% of her hearing at age four and has been getting a lot of well deserved advance attention. The  review copy boasts stellar blurbs from, among others, R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder, and Raina Telgemeier, author of the graphic novel, Smile. Palacio, Telgemeier and Bell's amazing books about

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21. Oh Dear, Geoffrey! by Gemma O'Neill

I almost passed on reviewing Oh Dear, Geoffrey, the debut picture book by Gemma O'Neill, because  it seemed like another jungle story about a clumsy giraffe. But, after reading it a few more times, I just couldn't get her marvelous illustrations out of my mind. Her style is vibrant and vivid, filled with texture and action and her meerkats are spot on. When we first meet Geoffrey, his "

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22. The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin

The Promise by written by Nicola Davies and magnificently illustrated by Laura Carlin is a modern day fable, of sorts. It reads like a harder edged, less whimsical version of Peter Brown's The Curious Garden that is powerful without being didactic or preachy. The narrator tells us about growing up in a city that was "mean and hard and ugly. Its streets were dry as dust, cracked by

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23. A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

A Library Book for Bear is the newest book from Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton, creators of four other books featuring this odd but endearing couple. I reviewed the beginning readers book A Birthday For Bear back in 2009 and have been reading the Bear books at story time ever since. Maybe it's because I relate to bear, who is a homebody, stick-in-the-mud who doesn't like change.

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24. The Popularity Papers: The Less-Than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldberg and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow, 208 pp, RL 4

Tomorrow marks the end of a really, supremely, special era that began back in 2011. Book 7 of The Popularity Papers, The Less-than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang, will be published. Amy Ignatow may have been capitalizing on the popularity of the Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid when she created the diaries of Lydia and Julie, 5th graders

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25. Michelle Knudsen EVIL LIBRARIAN Blog Tour Interview!

Be sure to read  my review of Michelle Knudsen's new YA novel, EVIL LIBRARIAN. 1) As I was writing my review of EVIL LIBRARIAN, I realized that what I wanted to talk about most was the relationship between Cyn and Ryan and the internal monologues the reader is treated to, especially the private, crazy stuff that Cyn (and all of us) thinks to herself. I have to admit, I groaned quietly to

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