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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. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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

0 Comments on Frank Einstein and the Antimater Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs, 192 pp, RL: 3 as of 8/18/2014 4:53:00 AM
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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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

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13. 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

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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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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19. Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, illustrated by Alexis Dormal

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques illustrated by Alexis Dormal marks the debut picture book from the premier publisher of graphic novels for readers of all ages, FirstSecond and it is a gem! Both the wry storytelling and the energetic illustrations call to mind one of my favorite picture book author and illustrators, Jules Feiffer, who has written his own bedtime story, which has

0 Comments on Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques, illustrated by Alexis Dormal as of 7/29/2014 3:32:00 AM
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20. A Perfect Place for Ted by Leila Rudge

A Perfect Place for Ted is Leila Rudge's delightfuldebut as a picture book author and illustrator. She has worked, wonderfully, with Meg McKinlay on the fantastic No Bears and two illustrated chapter books (see below for links to my reviews.)On her own, Rudge's book exhibits a sense of humor and illustration style that reminds me of a favorite, Emily Gravett. Ted is a "smart dog with

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21. Red Panda's Candy Apples by Ruth Paul

New Zealander Ruth Paul's first two books to be published in the US just happen to feature my two favorite animals! Last year I reviewed Hedgehog's Magic Tricks and, aside from the presence of a winsome hedgehog, I was charmed by Paul's gentle sense of humor,  sunny palette and sweet story. Red Panda's Candy Apples delivers all of these wonderful qualities and more! When Red Panda

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22. The Genius Files, Book 1: MISSION UNSTOPPABLE by Dan Gutman, 285 pp, RL 4

Confession: Even though he has been around for a long time and his books take up a lot of shelf space, even though I have heard him speak at a conference and was entertained, enthralled and excited by what he had to say about kids, books and reading, I have not read a book by  Dan Gutman until now. His Baseball Card Series is a staple for me as a bookseller and librarian - a sports story

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23. Make Map Art: Creatively Illustrate Your World by Nate Padavick & Sally Swindell, ALL AGES

Make Map Art by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell, the brother and sister creative design and illustration team otherwise known as Studio SSS is my latest, greatest bookstore find. I have been fascinated by maps for a very long time and am always partial to a kid's book that has a map in it. The idea of making maps to tell a story, to mark a memory and, as the introduction notes, to "define

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24. Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano, illustrations by Laia Aguilar

Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano, illustrated by Laia Aguilar, was originally published in Spain, where the creators hail from. Like scores of picture books here today, Bonjour Camille features a feisty, girl with lots of imagination. While Camille does wear a tutu (and a top hat, which she refers to as her "battledress") unlike so many of the pink-soccer-playing-cowboy boot wearing-princesses

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25. Countablock by Christopher Franceshelli, art by Peskimo

Last year I reviewed the brilliant Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli, with art by Peskimo. And now they are back with, dare I say it, the even more brilliant Countablock! The creativity in the design of the book itself and the illustrations in both books is out of the ordinary and a pleasure to pore over. Although the books are large, chunky and kind of heavy, they lay flat and can be

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