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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. Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Two years ago I fell in love with Flora, her flippers and her fantastic dance with a flamingo. I was thrilled to learn when author and illustrator Molly Idle had a second dance - I mean book - in the works. Idle follows up the fabulous, Caldecott Honor winning Flora and the Flamingo with Flora and the Penguin.  For this outing, it's wintertime and Flora has some skates to put on. Idle

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2. Telephone by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace

Telephone, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jen Corace (two of my absolute favorites) is one of those books that makes you wonder why no one has jumped on this idea before. It's also one of those deceptively simple picture books that has so much more going on. Taking the old game that kids still love to play as inspiration, Barnett sets the story in motion when a mother pigeon

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3. The Fairy-Tale Handbook: An Interactive Adventure Through the Magical World of Fairy Tales by Libby Hamilton, illustrated by Tomislav Tomić

The Fairy-Tale Handbook: An Interactive Adventure Through the Magical World of Fairy Tales is the work of illustrator Tomislav Tomić, contributor to the fantastic StoryWorld series of detailed cards that encourage creativity and storytelling in kids and adults, and Libby Hamilton, contributor to the encyclopedically awesome The Monstrous Book of Monsters. The Fairy-Tale Handbook: An

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4. Where is Curious George? A Look-And-Find-Book - Around Town

I am a huge fan of look-and-find books, especially if they are geared towards the preschool crowd. Good look-and-find books at this level seem to be hard to find, but Curious George? Where is Curious George: Around the Town, which follows Where is Curious George?, are perfectly geared toward the toddler crowd. And who doesn't love Curious George?  Each page has rhyming couplets that sets

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5. The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein, 235 pp, RL 4

Back in 2013 I read and loved Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. Besides being a book about books, which of course I adore, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is written in a style that will attract a wide range of readers, from the avid to the unsure. In The Island of Dr. Libris, Grabbenstein once again creates an everyman main character, astutely weaving in

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6. Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, illustrated by David Diaz

Me, Frida, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by David Diaz was originally published in hardcover in 2010 and is just now coming out in paperback. Kahlo's paintings are captivating and autobiographical in ways that sometimes overshadowed her accomplisments as an artist. The pain, tragedy and disappointments of her life that are the subject matter of much of her work seem like difficult

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7. In Mary's Garden by Tina & Carson Kügler

In Mary's Garden by Tina & Carson Kügler tells part of the life story of Wisconsin folk artist Mary Nohl, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 87. Readers will appreciate the story of a young woman pursuing a life of travel and art. At a time when most women were marrying and starting families, Mary chose to dedicate herself to creating found object sculptures and paintings, turning her

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8. Cat & Bunny by Mary Lundquist

Cat & Bunny is the debut picture book from Mary Lundquist, an author and illustrator we are sure to see more of for years to come. Lundquist has an illustration style that is whimsical and adorable (in the least sentimental way possible) that she pairs with a pale palette dominated by blues, greens and stark white backgrounds. Yet, the text of Cat & Bunny is simply written and subtly

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9.

Lovey Bunny is the debut picture book from Kristine A. Lombardi. It's a marvelously illustrated story (with a layered, collage feel to it) about a creative little bunny who loves everything from reading, her family, art, and pretending she's a grown up.  But, most of all, Lovey loves to play dress up.   When Lovey finds something special hanging on Mama's closet door, she

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10. Lollipop Love: Sweet Indulgence with Chocolate, Caramel and Sugar by Anita Chu, photographs by Antonis Achilleos, 95 pp

Lollipop Love: Sweet Indulgence with Chocolate, Caramel and Sugar by Anita Chu  with yummy photographs by Antonis Achilleos is exactly the kind of cookbook I love. Even though it's made for adults, it is sweet, simple and sure to grab the attention of young culinary artists and curious kids alike. Also, like the amazing Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Can Make cookbook I reviewed

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11. Great Ball of Light by Evan Kuhlman, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, 287 pp, RL 5

Great Ball of Light by Evan Kuhlman with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes, weaves together two seemingly disparate plot threads to create a fantastic story that is also thoughtful and philosophical.  Like a peanut butter and pickle sandwich - something that sounds incompatible, even kind of gross - Kuhlman blends the story of a broken family on the mend with lightning in a jar, specifically a

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12. Ms. Rapscott's Girls written and illustrated by Elise Primavera, 262 pp, RL: 4

Ms. Rapscott's Girls is the newest novel from Elise Primavera, author of one of my favorite books, Libby of High Hopes and I love it to bits! Ms. Rapscott's Girls, both the book and the titular character, call to mind classics from my childhood like Mary Poppins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and my absolute favorite, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Set firmly in the real world, there are generous

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13. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, 336 pp, RL 4

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby winner of the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. And, while this award is well deserved,  Icefall is so much more than a mystery - it is a coming of age story and a story within a story as well, with memories coming together to create something greater than the mystery itself. In fact, Icefall reminds me of Shannon Hale's Newbery Honor winning Princess

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14. RHYMOCEROS by Janik Coat

Hooray! Janik Coat, creator of the fantastic hippoposites, brought to us by the wonderful people at Abrams Appleseed in 2012, is back with a companion book - RHYMOCEROS! Coat has a visually stunning style that is paired with a fresh take on what are usually tired concept books. Where hippoposites stands out for a creative use of opposites, RHYMOCEROS is equally matched with creative rhymes -

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15. Olive Marshmallow by Katie Saunders

Olive Marshmallow is the newest book from Katie Saunders, and part of the debut line of books from a brand new publisher,  little bee books. It may seem like there are shelves full of new baby, big sibling picture books, but during my years as a bookseller, books of this genre that I wanted to read to my own growing family or recommend to customers were few and far between. I would definitely

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16. Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby, selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins and illustrated by Alyssa Nassner

Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby is absolutely brilliant! There are never enough good collections of poetry for children, let alone babies and toddlers, and poetry is such a vital part of learning to talk, read and love words. It makes perfect sense that Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love With Your Baby is brought to us by the good people at abramsappleseed, a

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17. Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo

little bird takes a bath is the newest picture book from Marisabina Russo, author and illustrator of one of a picture book I loved reading at story time when I was a bookseller, the bunnies are not in their beds. Little Bird likes to start each day with a song, and after a rainy night with honking horns, bobbing umbrellas and wing-rattling thunder, he is looking forward to his bath when

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18. IN by Nikki McClure

Nikki McClure is a stunning artist and a magical picture book author.  In both her story and art, she captures the rare, quiet spaces of childhood that often overlap with nature. Both her illustrations and text bring a refreshing, revitalizing pause to the page, warmly inviting readers to slow down and enjoy the moment. Perhaps this is, in part, because McClure's process of creating

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19. Crossover by Kwame Alexander, 237 pp, RL: 4

I am embarrassed to admit that I had The Crossover by Kwame Alexander sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year before it won the Newbery Award this year. I read the blurb about basketball phenom Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan and couldn't get excited, even though I LOVE verse novels and am continually amazed by them. It's just that I have zero interest in sports and sports stories.

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20. The Baseball Player and the Walrus by Ben Loory, illustrated by Alex Latimer

The Walrus and the Baseball Player by Ben Loory and illustrated by Alex Latimer is such a perfect book! Perfectly paced, perfectly mirrored and perfectly kind of weird - in the best way possible that kids are sure to love. At its most basic, The Walrus and the Baseball Player is a story about the responsibilities that come with having a pet. But it's also about discovering what you love,

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21. Stanley the Farmer by Wiliam Bee

I don't know how I missed this new series from one of my new favorite author/illustrators, William Bee, but Stanley, the machine-loving, job-exploring hamster made his debut last year in these brilliant, bright, big format books from Peachtree Publishers. Stanley the Builder and Stanley's Garage were the first two books in the series and now Stanley the Farmer joins the series with

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22. Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama is the newest book by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama is a superb addition to the genre of narrative non-fiction, and a welcome addition to books about the Civil Rights Movement. Beginning in January of 1962, Bass sets the scene, telling readers that

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23. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, 336 pp, RL 4

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby winner of the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. And, while this award is well deserved,  Icefall is so much more than a mystery - it is a coming of age story and a story within a story as well, with memories coming together to create something greater than the mystery itself. In fact, Icefall reminds me of Shannon Hale's Newbery Honor winning Princess

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24. Capital Days: Michael Shiner's Journal and the Growth of Our Nation's Capital by Tonya Bolden, 96 pp, RL: 4

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, is set during the days before the American Revolution and is narrated by a thirteen-year-old slave girl. It is one of my favorite historical fiction novels and why I was so excited to read Capital Days: Michael Shiner's Journal and the Growth of Our Nation by multi-award winning author Tonya Bolden. For this book, Bolden, who was writing another book when

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25.

Egg: Nature's Perfect Package is the newest book from the brilliant Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, who always make seemingly uninteresting topics interesting and interesting topics even more interesting! I definitely recommend checking out the amazing making of page on their website to get a real idea of everything that goes into creating one of their books. Egg: Nature's Perfect Package 

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