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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. Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

In her debut picture book, Oliver, Birgitta Sif explored the experience of an introvert with sensitivity and creativity that resulted in a memorable and worthwhile book. With Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance Sif visits similar, well worn terrain with the same fresh perspective that makes for another memorable picture book. Frances Dean loves to dance, but only when she is all alone.

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2. The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh, 90 pp, RL 2

The Mystery of the Missing Lion is the third book in Alexander McCall Smith's, brilliant chapter book series featuring the childhood incarnation of his adult novel heroine and owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe. The books are marvelously illustrated by Iain McIntosh and are unique when it comes to chapter books for so many reasons - girl detective, set in

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3. Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, RL: 2

I did not want to like The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I am tired of princesses and equally tired of princess backlash. I am weary from trying to excavate and explain the potential of a princess in a plot (see my review of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett) and I am wary of mash-ups that have the air of a Disney enterprise. However, I

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4. Ivan: The Remarkable Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine ApplegateG. Brian Karas is an invaluable addition to the shelves and ideal companion to Applegate's 2013 Newbery Gold Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan. Written in free verse, The One and Only Ivan is one of a handful of Newbery winners that can be read and understood by younger readers, which is especially nice. Now,

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5. The Worst Witch: To the Rescue by Jill Murphy, 172 pp, RL 3

Originally published in 1974, author Jill Murphy, who was fifteen when she began writing The Worst Witch. The Worst Witch series is beloved in the UK and has been made into a television film and a television series that spawned two spinoff shows. Long before there was Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches where out hero, Mildred Hubble, is a stand out student - a stand out

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6. Eerie Elementary Book 1: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert, illustrations by Sam RIcks, 90 pp, RL: 2

Eerie Elementary by Jack Chabert is yet another fantastic series that's part of Scholastic's much needed Branches line. These books are "specifically designed for newly independent readers who are ready to make the exciting leap from leveled readers, but not quite prepared for a traditional chapter book." In the school where I am a librarian and the majority of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders

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7. I Am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster

I almost didn't review I Am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster on the belief that there is not much new you can do when it comes to a holiday themed picture book. However, Harriet Muncaster does bring something very new and charming to the genre and, technically, I Am a Witch's Cat isn't even really a Halloween book as it does not even mention the holiday. I Am a Witch's Cat begins,

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8. Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season by Jessi Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend, 52 pp, RL 2

Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season is the second book in this series for horse lovers by Jessi Haas and illustrated by Alison Friend. Haas, who has written several other children's books featuring horses and, while this is a lower level book, Haas does not talk down to readers when writing about horses and riding. In the first book in the series, Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl, we learn

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9. The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry, 122 pp, RL 1.5

The Yeti Files series by Kevin Sherry is just about the best thing EVER! Sherry, who is the author of some very funny picture books that I enjoyed reading out loud at story time when I was a bookseller, is perfectly suited to take the helm of an endeavor like this, in terms of illustration style and sense of humor. And his appreciation of large magical and non-magical creatures. Book 1 of

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10. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, 328 pp, RL: YA

For a truly superlative, clear-eyed review of How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, I beg you to read Ann Friedman's review for the New York Times Book Review. Read on for my somewhat personal, reflective, rambling review that is really a thank you, tribute and plea to get everyone to like (and share) the writing of brilliant, funny, articulate women like Moran - and Tina Fey, (Tina, if you

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11. Star Wars: Jedi Academy AND Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan! by Jeffrey Brown, 158 pp, RL 3

Star Wars Reads Day (in schools) IS TODAY!!! Look for nationwide events in libraries & bookstores tomorrow also . . . Click here for more details By now, many of you may of a certain age and state of parenthood should have received or given a copy of Jeffrey Brown's books Darth Vader and Son and/or Vader's Little Princess on Father's Day, Christmas or another gift giving

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12. Druthers by Matt Phelan

I love Matt Phelan. His graphi novels tackle serious, intriguing subjects while preserving a sense of playfulness that takes center stage in the picture books that he illustrates. Druthers, Phelan's newest picture book (and, if I did my research accurately, his first picture book as author and illustrator) is perfectly playful and especially sweet.  It's a rainy day and Penelope has

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13. Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham

I read and reviewed my first Bob Graham book back in 2010 and have been amazed and delighted by everything he does since then. His newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, is no exception. Graham is a miniaturist with a global vision, a deeply gifted storyteller and a gentle, subtle teacher. Vanilla Ice Cream begins in the heat and dust of India with Annisha and Suhani, who are playing

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14. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

If you don't already have a preschool or school age child, you may not know just how enthralling the story of the Gingerbread Man is to little kids. I think they love this story because it satisfies many of their most basic instincts, drives and interests. There is food, specifically cookies with candy on them. There is a little (cookie) boy behaving badly and being downright sassy. And

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15. 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

Little kids love to see their (tiny) world presented to them on the pages of a book. They also love to arrange and organize things, whether it's toy animals, goldfish crackers or twigs. And, they also appreciate a good rhyme. 100 Things that Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz satisfies all three of these with a charm and simplicity that harmonizes with the thoughtful choices and engaging

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16. STAR WARS READS DAY IS OCTOBER 11, 2014!!

  STAR WARS READS III is October 10 (in schools) &  October 11 (in libraries & bookstores) For more info visit: Star Wars Reads Day on Facebook Look for great events at your local  bookstores & libraries, or host your own with these awesome ACTIVITY PAGES!! Participating authors: Jeffrey Brown, author of Star Wars: Jedi Academy and Jedi Academy: Return of the

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17. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Leroy Ninker Saddles up is the first in a new series of chapter books from the dynamic duo who brought us stories about a buttered-toast-loving-pet-pig. Fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen's Mercy Watson series of beginning reader chapter books (you can read my review from 2010 here) might remember Leroy Ninker from Book 3, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, in which he was first seen

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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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

0 Comments on Digby O'Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vuillamy, 96 pp, RL 2 as of 9/29/2014 4:49:00 AM
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25. 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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