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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. The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island, Book 1, by Barry Wolverton, 338 pp, RL 4

In 2012 I reviewed Neversink, a superb, Watership Down-esque tale of animals living in the Arctic Circle by Barry Wolverton. I've been waiting three years to see what he does next and The Vanishing Island, the first book in the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series is every bit as exciting as Neversink and inventively set in the alternate past of 1599! The town of Map is the "dirtiest,

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2. Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll, 136 pp, RL 4

Baba Yaga's Assistant is the superlative new graphic novel written by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll, who brought us the eerily wonderful graphic Through the Woods. I am a HUGE fan of fairy tales (my secret dream is to get a PhD in fairy tales and write a killer dissertation...) and always excited to see a story that features one of the lesser known (to Americans) characters

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3. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is the first work of narrative non-fiction for Laurel Snyder, author of several picture books and middle grade novels. Illustrated by Julie Morstad, the cover of Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova drew me in instantly, even though I never made it past rudimentary ballet classes as a very young child and the most I know about this Russian

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4. The Elephantom by Ross Collins

Ross Collins is a prolific illustrator (and author) of picture books, chapter books and novels for kids. His newest picture book, The Elephantom, is a huge hit in the U.K. and it's been adapted into a  play by the Royal National Theater that's also a huge hit! After reading The Elephantom, I can see why. The narrator of The Elephantom, a very cute little girl - Collins has a way with

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5. Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Leo: A Ghost Story is Mac Barnett's fourteenth picture book (two of which have won the Caldecott Honor Medal) in six years. That might seem like a lot for an author/illustrator, but not necessarily for a picture book author. While I tend to prefer picture books where the author is also the illustrator, Barnett's books are favorites of mine and I love seeing his unique story telling style

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6. A Divided Night by Jennifer A. Nielsen, 317 pp, RL 4

Jennifer Nielsen is the author of the widely praised Ascendance Trilogy, set in a kingdom on the verge of civil war. Neilsen is also the author of the Mark of the Thief trilogy set in Ancient Rome that combines history, fantasy and fast paced action. Nielsen's newest book, A Night Divided, is a stand-alone work of historical fiction set in a time and place that is rarely visited in

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7. Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner and Simona Mulazzani

The latest educational scuttlebutt when it comes to books and the Common Core State Standards is multi-subject non-fiction, or combining math facts with science and history in one book. Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by the multitalented Kate Messner, with superb illustrations by Simona Mulizzani is a perfect example of this! Tree of Wonder: The Many

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8. The Tree House that Jack Built by Bonnie Verburg & Mark Teague

The Tree House that Jack Built by Bonnie Verburg, with fantastic illustrations by Mark Teague, takes the old nursery rhyme south of the equator for this very fun twist. The Tree House that Jack Built begins by following the pattern of the nursery rhyme ("Here is the lizard that snaps at the fly that buzzes by the tree house that Jack built) and escalates until a bell rings - it's

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9. Audrey's Tree House by Jenny Hughes & Jonathan Bently

I love tree houses. Who doesn't? For me, tree houses, along with window seats, are those things from my childhood that seemed like magical places where a kid could go to get away from the world. They were magical to me because, growing up in a city and living in an apartment, they seemed largely unattainable. Yet, they posses the transformative power of an enchanted wardrobe or mirror.

0 Comments on Audrey's Tree House by Jenny Hughes & Jonathan Bently as of 8/19/2015 4:48:00 AM
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10. DINOBLOCK by Christopher Franceschelli, art by Peskimo, 96 pp, RL: ALL AGES

If you had the good fortune to read Alphablock and Countablock by Christopher Franceschelli and the husband and wife design team Peskimo, then you don't need to keep reading this review of their newest book, Dinoblock, because you know you need to buy this book now. If you haven't seen these brilliant, beautiful, completely engaging books, get your hands on them! Get two, actually,

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11. Whose Truck? by Toni Buzzeo & Jim Datz

Earlier this year I reviewed Whose Tools? by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by Jim Datz. I loved Whose Tools? for the subject, something kids love but also something there are few picture books about, and for the wonderful illustrations and engaging gatefolds opening to show the tools at work. Whose Truck? brings us the same great format and text - a guessing game - along with a subject

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12. Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon, 247 pp., RL 3

Ursula Vernon is the author of the excellent, comic hybrid Dragonbreath series (Book 11 comes out January, 2016!) and the superb stand alone novel, Castle Hangnail. Vernon is a triple threat when it comes to kid's books. She is a great illustrator who makes creepy cute on every page. She is an imaginative author, always adding to the fantasy genre. And, best of all, she is a very funny

0 Comments on Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon, 247 pp., RL 3 as of 8/18/2015 4:22:00 AM
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13. All Shook Up! and Who's There? by Alain Crozon

My kids, in fact, all the kids in my extended family, are well beyond the age to enjoy board books. But I still really love reading a good board book. It brings a smile to my face and, if it's a superior board book, it entertains me. Who's There and All Shook Up, Alain Crozon's two new (to America) board books with flaps to lift and wiggle are entertaining, surprising, and filled with

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14. The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin, graphic art by Raina Telgemeier, 180 pp, RL 4

In a brilliant move, Scholastic had Raina Telgemeier turn Ann M. Martin's hugely successful (but gently out of date) series The Baby-Sitters Club into a (black and white) graphic novel in 2006. It took almost 10 years and two best selling graphic novels penned by Telgemeier herself for Scholastic Graphix to add color to the four books in this series, which will be released over the course

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15. The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider, RL: 1.5

 I reviewed the picture book Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Josh Schneider earlier this year and LOVED it. Schneider is a hilarious author and a hilarious illustrator, as his rhyming story about Fred, who has a "to-do list you wouldn't believe," proves. Fred needs to stay awake to do things like practice his karate chops and warm up for a yelling contest while animals from all over

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16. Fowl Play by Travis Nichols

I LOVE Fowl Play by Travis Nichols!!! A graphic novel-style picture book, Fowl Play is filled with a fantastic cast of animals, a crime and a great detective agency that goes by the name, "Gumshoe Zoo." And Fowl Play is packed with non-stop idioms. Idioms! In a picture book! And it totally works! I can't wait for school to start so I can read Fowl Play over and over to my students. I also

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17. Playful Pigs from A to Z by Anita Lobel

Anita Lobel is a picture book illustrator and author from my childhood. Her illustrations are instantly recognizable to me and immediately evocative of another time and place. Her books were worlds that I got lost in when I was a child. My absolute favorite, Under a Mushroom, published in 1970, is out of print but I still have my copy! Anita Lobel's picture books are often quiet and

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18. A Pig, A Fox and a Box by Jonathan Fenske, RL: 1

A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske is a great book for a reader who is just beginning to take off. One thing I especially like about the Puffin Young Readers books, of which A Pig, a Fox, and a Box is one, is the very detailed information  in the book and on the website that lets parents know specifically what level this reader is. The are SO MANY leveled readers being published

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19. The Wild Piano: A Philemon Adventure by Fred, 39 pp, RL

Last year, TOON Graphics brought us Cast Away on the Letter A, the first  Philemon Adventure by Fred, published in 1972 in France. Philemon and his adventures are unlike almost anything that we have seen on these shores. Fred's illustrations are intricate and filled with action, humor and imagination. I am often reminded of the interstitial animated flights of fancy (and weirdness) that

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20. Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey, forward by Jane Goodall, 96 pp, RL 4

The introduction for Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey begins by noting that Jane Goodall "has been chosen as the most recognized scientist in the Western world." Regardless of how accurate that statement is, the fact remains that Jane Goodall is still alive, has been working in her field for over 50 years and her subject is something that is almost universally appealing

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21. Piper Green and the Fairy Tree AND Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: TOO MUCH GOOD LUCK by Ellen Potter, 95 pp, RL 2

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree marks the sixth book I have reviewed by the wonderful Ellen Potter and I absolutely ADORE it! I reviewed the first book in Potter's Olivia Kidney series, which would make the PERFECT step up for readers after finishing the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, back in 2008! It has been such a treat to continue reading her books over the last seven years and

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22. Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Lisa Brown

Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert with illustrations by Lisa Brown has to be one of the most intriguing picture books I've read this year! This rhyming story layers history, biography, hieroglyphics and intrigue into what, on the surface, is the story of a girl and her beloved pet. Ewert begins Mummy Cat, "The winds hiss over desert sand, / The moon shines down on empty land. / And long ago

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23. Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter & Shane W. Evans

Lillian's Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Shane W. Evans, commemorates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The importance of this landmark piece of legislation is brought to life fo readers with in the character of Lillian, a 100-year-old black woman from Alabama and her "long haul up that steep hill" as she walks to her polling place, the

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24. Why'd They Wear That?: Fashions as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee, forward by Tim Gunn, 186 pp, RL 4

There are so many things I love and am fascinated by in Why'd They Wear That? Fashion as the Mirror of History by Sarah Albee! From the multitude of fascinating facts to the fantastic graphics, I am worried this review could go on endlessly. However, what I love most about Albee's book is what comes at the end, right before a timeline, author's notes, further reading and resources,

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25. Big Dog and Little Dog by Dav PIlkey, RL 1.0

You may think of potty humor and Captain Underpants when you hear the name Dav Pilkey, but I think of the silly-sweet-goofy Dragon, which was one of the first books I reviewed here when I started in 2008! When I discovered that Dragon had his own television show, I updated the review here, adding in information about other beginning readers and picture books by Pilkey that I love. In that

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