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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. 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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2. 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

0 Comments on Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter as of 9/12/2014 2:10:00 PM
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3. 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,

0 Comments on Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen, 343 pp, RL: TEEN as of 9/12/2014 2:12:00 PM
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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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

0 Comments on The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin as of 9/4/2014 4:30:00 AM
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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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.

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13. 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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14. 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

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15. 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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16. 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

0 Comments on If I Had a Raptor by George O'Connor as of 8/22/2014 6:11:00 AM
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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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 (

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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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