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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. 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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2. 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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3. Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 352 pp, RL: TEEN

Unwind is the first book in the Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. Unwind was published in 2007, fourteen years after the thought provoking, conversation starting Newbery winner, The Giver and one year before the book that made "dystopian" a household word, The Hunger Games. I was a bookseller when The Hunger Games was published and my fellow booksellers and I avidly passed around the

0 Comments on Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 352 pp, RL: TEEN as of 8/29/2014 4:33:00 AM
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4. Dog Days of School by Kelly di Pucchio, illustrated by Brian Biggs

Dog Days of School is a very funny flip-flop-school-story written by Kelly DiPucchio and  illustrated by Brian Biggs. Charlie does not like going to school and is tired of everything about it. In fact, Charlie is "tired of being tired." Norman, Charlie's dog, seems like he has it all - a soft bed to sleep on and nothing to do. As he falls asleep in Sunday night, Charlie wishes he was a dog.

0 Comments on Dog Days of School by Kelly di Pucchio, illustrated by Brian Biggs as of 8/28/2014 5:55:00 AM
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5. Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman & Adam Rex

Earlier this year in a Literary Celebrity Guest Review, Elissa Brent Weissman reviewed the charming Chu's Day, written by Neil Gaiman and brilliantly illustrated by  Adam Rex. Now, just in time for fall, Chu is back and headed to school in Chu's First Day of School! Chu is nervous. School is starting and he worries whether the other students will like him and what will happen. His

0 Comments on Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman & Adam Rex as of 8/27/2014 4:21:00 AM
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6. Monsters Love School by Mike Austin

Last year I reviewed Mike Austin's Monsters Love Colors. Austin took a pretty standard concept book and turned it into an energy-filled-outing with some scribbly-but-sweet monsters who are very fun to spend time with. In Monsters Love School, Austin and his monsters work their magic again, this time taking a pretty standard starting school story and making it special. Monsters Love

0 Comments on Monsters Love School by Mike Austin as of 8/26/2014 5:47:00 AM
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7. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood, illustrated by Jon Klassen, 267 pp, RL 4

I have had a copy of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood on my shelf since 2010 when it was released. While the plot sounded interesting, I have hung on to it for over four years, hoping to get to it someday, because of the completely charming  illustrations by a favorite of mine, Jon Klassen. Now, four years later and four books into

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8. If I Had a Raptor by George O'Connor

There are a lot of great things about If I Had a Raptor by George O'Connor, creator of the Olympians series of graphic novels, but what I like most is the way that O'Connor subtly replaces the expected with the uncommon. A raptor stands in for a cat and, in this time when the conversation about the abundance of white boys in children's literature is starting to take precedence, a little girl

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9. Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle

While he definitely has a way with pirates, Jonny Duddle is such an amazing illustrator that I am always excited to see where he turns his focus when working on a new project (be sure to scroll to the bottom of the review to see Duddle's latest project - creating new 15th anniversary cover for UK editions of the Harry Potter books!) As his newest book Gigantosaurus proves, Jonny Duddle has a

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10. The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham

Once again, John Burningham gives us a brilliant picture book that perfectly captures the imagination and internal life of a child. The Way to the Zoo hits the shelves as the 50th anniversary of Chitty Chitty Ban Bang is being celebrated, marking an amazingly long and fruitful career that I hope will continue on. In The Way to the Zoo we meet Sylvie, who, just before she falls asleep,

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11. It's an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall

A couple of years ago I reviewed Cat Tale, Michael Hall's third picture book, and took the opportunity to talk about his first two amazing picture books as well. My Heart is Like a Zoo and Perfect Square (my favorite) are both books that rely heavily on the geometric illustrations to tell the stories in brilliant ways. With Cat Tale Hall used homophones to tell a silly story that is sure

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12. Bruno and Titch: A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig by Sheena Dempsy

Sheena Dempsy's new book, Bruno & Titch: A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig, is a wonderful story about bringing home a first pet (and the interesting ideas kids sometimes have about how to best care for that pet) and also a fantastic book featuring the (somewhat) underrepresented guinea pig! Be sure not to miss a short list of other picture and chapter books featuring this furry pet at the

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13. A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham reminds me of a cheerier, more colorful version of Candace Fleming's wonderful Clever Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. In both Fleming and Pham's books a friend bakes a birthday cake for another friend and, in the process of delivering the cake things go awry. With a flock of crows, an ogre and a princess, Fleming's book has a definitely has

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14. Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter D. Sieruta, 276 pp, RL: ALL AGES

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature is a behind-the-scenes look at the grown-up aspects of writing children's books written by three children's book specialists, Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter D. Sieruta, who passed away in 2012. Having been a fan of the blogs of Betsy Bird (fuse#8, which was picked up by School Library Journal a few years ago) and Julie

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15. Frank Einstein and the Antimater Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs, 192 pp, RL: 3

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka with fantastic illustrations by Brian Biggs is  the book I have been most anticipating this year and it definitely delivers! Of course, everyone knows Scieszka, the author of contemporary picture book classics like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, but The Time Warp

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16. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, 372 pp, RL: TEEN

I bought Delicious!,  the debut work of fiction by restaurant critic, food writer (food memoirist might be a better moniker), former editor of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl as a gift for my mother, who is a decent cook and ardent reader of Reichl's work and that of other great food writers, and my aunt, a spectacular, thoughtful cook who does not read fiction. I thought I might borrow it (

0 Comments on Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, 372 pp, RL: TEEN as of 8/15/2014 4:28:00 AM
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17. In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet

In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet, originally published in France (thus the French text in the illustrations, the only I could find) is a boldly illustrated meditation that is short on narrative but strong on images and connections, making this more of a concept book than a story. And, at 64 pages, it is also twice as long as most picture books. "I am in the hair, said the

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18. Planes Go by Steve Light

Steve Light, author and illustrator of the fantastic picture books Have You Seen My Dragon? and Zephyr Takes Flight is also the creator of a superb collection of onomatopoetic, transportation board books, the newest of which is Planes Go. From the seaplane that goes, "GGRRRRRRRRRRRRR Putt Putt Putt ssSPLAAASHH!" to the helicopter, the jumbo jet, the propeller plane, the fighter

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19. Who Did It? Boxed Set by Ohara Hale

Who Did It? is a fantastic new board book collection by Ohara Hale, a singer/songwriter/musician, illustrator, children's book author, gig-poster maker, writer, animator, director, graphic designer and art director. Who Did It? is also a title in the debut line of kid's books from Pow! an imprint of powerHouse Books, an independent publisher of art and photography books. Pow! is dedicated

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20. The Little Bear Book by Anthony Browne

Originally published in 1988, Anthony Browne's The Little Bear Book is back! The Little Bear Book definitely reflects the standards of the time, but Browne's genius and imagination shines through - even in this seemingly simple story. Little Bear is a bit of a Harold, from Harold and the Purple Crayon. As he travels through the forest, he meets animals who could be threatening but, with

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21. What If . . . ? by Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a longtime favorite of mine. His illustrations are always well worth the cost of the book, and are often like owning a small work of art. But it's Browne's stories that have made his award-filled career last as long as it has. Browne has a rare and amazing sensitivity to the worries of children combined with a gift for capturing and honoring them subtly and gently with

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22. the strange beautiful sorrows of ava lavender by Leslye Walton, 301 pages, RL: TEEN

When I was in high school I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and it remains one of the handful of books I have read twice in my life. There is something about the genre of magical realism that seems perfectly suited to the adolescent experience. It provides escape from what might be painful, difficult and confusing times and presents a version of the world that can

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23. The Unwanteds: Book 1, by Lisa McMann, 400 pp, RL 4

The Unwanteds, the first book in Lisa McMann's Unwanteds series came out in 2011 and the blurb on the cover, "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," didn't grab me, despite the fact that I read and admire both series. I was  burned out on dystopian settings and wary of any book that is compared to Harry Potter. But, The Unwanteds won the California Young Reader Medal medal for best

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24. Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin, 263 pp, RL 4

Fleabrain Loves Franny is the newest book by a favorite of mine, Joanne Rocklin, with fantastic cover art by Kelly Murphy. Fleabrain Loves Franny begins in 1952 when three life changing things happen to ten-year-old Franny Katzenback: she contracts polio and she reads  and is enamored with the new book by E.B.White, Charlotte's Web, given to her in the hospital by Sister Ed, an enthusiastic

0 Comments on Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin, 263 pp, RL 4 as of 8/12/2014 5:10:00 AM
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25. Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout

Backseat A-B-See is now available in BOARD BOOK and an absolute MUST for all little travelers! All my kids learned to read their first words from the backseat of a car, which is exactly why I am so excited and pleased with Maria van Lieshout's new book, Backseat A-B-See. van Lieshout does a wonderful job from A to Z, from the images to the layout to the signs she discovered to go with

0 Comments on Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout as of 8/13/2014 4:01:00 AM
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