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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. Secret Letters From 0 to10 by Susie Morgenstern, translated by Gill Rosner, 137pp RL 4

First reviewed on 11/16/08, Secret Letters from 0 + 10 left a great impression on me. A wonderful, quiet story, Morgenstern's writing is superlative. Your children will remember this book long into adulthood. Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern is a gem of a book. It turned up on the shelves of the bookstore one day and I was drawn to the cover, its length and the fact that is

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2. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

If I didn't know that The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont, wonderfully written by Victoria Griffith with gorgeous pictures by Eva Montanari, was a work of non-fiction, I would have thought I was reading a fascinating story about two very creative, inventive friends set in turn of the century Paris. That would be a great book. Even better than that? Finding out that these

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3. Minette's Feast, written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy June Bates

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy June Bates is scrumptious! Susanna Reich clearly knows and loves her subject matter (both Julia Child and cats) and her author's note reveals a wonderful personal connection while the afterword, notes, glossary and pronunciation guide offer substance for readers who want to know more

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4. Anna and the French Kiss written by Stephanie Perkins, 384 pp, RL: TEEN

First reviewed 3/21/11, Anna and the French Kiss is the perfect YA romance, in my opinion, notable for the fact that the love interests have the opportunity (and gift) to become friends first. Thoughtful, charming and exciting, the fact that this story takes place is Paris is the ganache in the macaron... Back in December of last year when I reviewed Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by

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5. Whose Shoe? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Whose Shoe? is the newest picture book from Eve Bunting with illustrations by Sergio Ruzzier. Bunting, who was born in 1928, is the author of over 250 books and her range is impressive. In her picture books and fiction, she has written about the Los Angeles Riots, a homeless father and son living in an airport, the Vietnam Memorial and the immigrant experience. She can also write an

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6. G+D Vintage Books: The Animals' Vacation and Mr. Wishing Went Fishing

Growing up in the 1970s, I was well positioned to enjoy picture books from my mother's childhood and, along with Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight's Eloise, Little Golden Books were always a favorite of mine. When my two oldest children were little, it was hard to find the classic Little Golden Books that I remembered, but in 2001 they reissued many of the vintage titles that I had been missing.

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7. Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex

Chu's Day at the Beach is the third in a series of picture books about a little panda with big a sneeze written by  Neil Gaiman and magnificently illustrated by as master author in his own right, Adam Rex. Sometimes Gaiman's story doesn't get beyond the gag of the explosive sneeze, but Rex's illustrations are always a treat. Painterly and packed with out of the ordinary (for picture

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8. Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Bob Shea is a very funny guy. He is also a very funny guy who gets kids. Best of all, he can blend his humor with his  grasp of a child's psyche and translate it onto the page in pictures and words, which is not easy. Way back in 2010 I loved and reviewed Dinosaur vs. the Potty when it came out and read it over and over at story time. While I've been keeping up with reading Shea's books,

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9. My Cousin Momo by Zachariah OHora

When I was a bookseller, I remember being so excited when I read Stop Snoring, Bernard! for the first time in 2011. It was a great hit at story time and I fell in love with Zachariah OHora's illustration style and his charming characters. Somehow I missed his next book, No Fits, Nilson, which I still need to get my hands on. Now, author of three books of his own, OHora has also illustrated

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10. Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís

I am embarrassed to admit that this is the first Peter Sís book I have reviewed here in the seven years since I started this blog. Peter Sís is a picture book author who's work ranges from playful to serious, always with a unique sensibility, an out of the ordinary perspective and a magical vibe. Above all else, imagination and seeing something no one else does are themes that appear over

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11. Pool by JiHyeon Lee

Pool is the debut picture book from South Korean illustrator JiHyeon Lee and it is marvelously magical - and wordless! Pool has the very qualities of a wordless picture book - superb illustrations and rich imagination - that have made this genre a favorite of mine. I was very happy to read the review of Pool in the New York Times by another favorite author of mine,  Emily Jenkins (read

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12. Big Bot Small Bot: A Book of Robot Opposites by Marc Rosenthal

For a picture book about opposites to grab my attention, it has to be clever or out of the ordinary, or both. For the same old opposites to be interesting, the illustrative examples have to be engaging or new opposites need to be employed. Two of my favorite books do both. Pomelo's Opposites and Hippopposites (scroll to the bottom for more about these books) are two of my favorites. Add to

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13. Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

While I always love a good fairy tale mash-up, it was the cover art for Interstellar Cinderella that drew me in right away. Meg Hunt's retro illustrations are filled with detail, a unique (for kid's books) palette and lots of movement. I didn't even realize that the book was written by Deborah Underwood, author of the superb trio, The Quiet Book, The Loud Book and the Quiet Christmas Book,

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14. Undertow by Michael Buckley, 376 pp, RL: TEEN

Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series was one of the first books I reviewed when I started my blog in 2008 and four years later, with the publication of the ninth and final book in the series, it remains one of my all-time-favorite reads. If you, or anyone you know, loves fairy tales even the slightest bit, Sisters Grimm is a MUST read. Buckley is also author of another middle grade

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15. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, 197 pp, RL 4

Alice Hoffman is the author of many books for adults, a few of which have been made into movies, and a handful of books for young readers. Her newest book, Nightbird, brings magical realism, a genre mastered by Gabriel García Márquez, to middle grade readers in a way that is compelling and appropriate. Magical realism, which presents magical or unreal elements in an otherwise mundane setting

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16. Ratscalibur written by Josh Lieb and illustrated by Tom Lintern, 171 pp. RL 4

Josh Lieb has a very impressive page on IMDB with some solid comedy credit, including several Emmys. His first book for kids, I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to Be Your Class President, had hilarious blurbs from Judd Apatow and Jon Stewart, who likened to the book to the baby of War and Peace and The Breakfast Club that had been left to be raised by wolves. Writing funny kid's

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17. Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon, 372 pp, RL 4

Castle Hangnail is the special treat that we get from Ursula Vernon that comes between the ending of her fantastic  Dragonbreath series and the start of her eagerly anticipated new series, Hamster Princess, featuring Harriet, a an extraordinary princess who excels at checkers and fractions, despite the curse that a wicked fairy god mouse cast, leaving her looking toward a Sleeping

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18. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath, 216 pp. RL 4

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones with perfect illustrations by Katie Kath! First, it is an epistolary novel, one of my favorite kinds of books. Next, in Sophie Brown, Jones has created an ethnic character who speaks matter-of-factly about being discriminated against because of the color of her skin. I am always thrilled to find

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19. William and the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Hancocks

William and the Missing Masterpiece is the second picture book from Helen Hanckocks. Her first book, Penguin in Peril, was the biggest selling picture book in the UK last year! Hancocks has a fantastic, wry sense of humor that expresses itself perfectly through her cat and penguin main characters as well as the plots and illustrations of her books. Crime seems to be a theme in Hancocks's

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20. What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virján

Being an elementary school librarian has changed how I think (and feel) about books in really positive ways. During the decades that I was a children's bookseller, I had the luxury of being selective and critical with my tastes. Now, of course I am still critical and selective, but I am also more open minded in how I think about a book. What This Book Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma Virján is

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21. The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke, 38 pp, RL 2

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke is a fantastic new book from Creston Books, a homegrown publisher of books printed in America that launched in Fall of 2013. Of course I love a good story, but I also love a beautifully made book and all of Creston's books fit this bill, as you can glimpse in the photo below, and by taking a look inside The

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22. Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss (except for words and pictures by Amelia) 80pp. RL 5

Wow! It's hard to believe that Marissa Moss's creation, Amelia and her composition book/diary, first hit the shelves 20 years ago! Amelia was not new to me, having just started as a children's bookseller, and having a daughter and a collection of American Girl dolls. Amelia and her notebooks have had a variety of publishers, starting with Tricycle Press. After publishing an excerpt from

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23. The Paper Playhouse: Awesome Art Projects for Kids Using Paper, Boxes and Books by Katrina Rodabaugh

I am SO in LOVE with The Paper Playhouse: Awesome Art Projects for Kids Using Paper, Boxes and Books by Katrina Rodbaugh for SO many reasons. The only thing I don't like about it is that it did not exist 10 years ago when my kids were little and would have loved the projects inside. First, though, I have to commend publisher Quarry Books, creators of "high-end, beautifully designed, visual

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24. Art Lab for Kids AND Art Lab for Little Kids AND 3-D Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake, photographs by Rainer Schwake

Susan Schwake is an artist with over two decades worth of experience teaching in a diverse number of educational settings, running her own art school and creating and curating a permanent installation of children's artwork for a new wing of her local library. As a bookseller, I was immediately drawn to her first book, Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting,

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25. Grandma in Blue with Red Hat, written by Scott Menchin and illustrated by Harry Bliss

Building a picture book around actual works of art can be a tricky task. With Grandma in Blue with Red Hat,  Scott Menchin, illustrator of several picture books and author of more than a few, creates a masterpiece. In addition to his work in picture books, Menchin is an award winning illustrator and teacher at the Pratt Institute Graduate School. This makes him very well poised to write a

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