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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. 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

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2. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, 255 pp, RL 5

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman combines time-travel fantasy and historical fiction in an different way that makes for an interesting read. Sherman begins her novel introducing us to the thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau and the very different world of 1960s Louisiana. Sophie's mama is a Fairchild of Oak River, which was once a great sugar cane plantation. Now, the remains of the

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3. My Pet Book by Bob Staake

I am a big fan of the work of Bob Staake and I hope you'll take time at the end of this review to explore his other books, many of which I have reviewed here. His newest picture book, My Pet BOOK, perfectly presents Staake's wacky sensibilities and his colorfully crowded world while expressing the joys of books and reading at the same time. Set in Smartytown, we meet a boy who wants a

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4. I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Sara Gillingham

I Am So Brave! is the newest book from Stephen Krensky and Sara Gillingham and the fourth in their series of board books celebrating the milestones along from toddlerhood to preschooler. I Can Do It Myself! and Now I Am Big! and I Can Do It Myself!. Rather than teaching facts to toddlers like most board books, Krensky's books focus on the things the accomplishments they have already

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5. Montessori Map Work by Bobby and June George, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner

Montessori Map Work is the fourth and my favorite of the Montessori series of board books Abrams Appleseed began publishing in 2012. All of the books by Bobby and June George, founder of the Baan Dek Montessori School in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, are invaluable and Alyssa Nassner's crisp illustrations. As they note in their letter to parents that introduces each book in the series, the

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6. The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

I was instantly drawn to the illustrations of Kazuno Kohara when I was working as a bookseller and discovered the paperback edition of Ghosts in the House! back in 2010. Ghosts in the House! is the rare Halloween-themed picture book - one that captures the spirit of the holiday while also offering just the right amount of spooky for little listeners. Kohara's book was a joy to read at story

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7. Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, 194 pp, RL 3

I have been getting glimpses of Oliver and the Seawigs, by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre since March of 2013 when they were at the Bologna Children's Book Fair promoting this fantastic book with and amazing array of seawigs, costumes and accoutrements. I've included a few images of the great getups that Reeve and McIntyre don for events, but be sure to check out Sarah's blog entries for

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8. Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell

There are SO MANY things I love about Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell, but it's clear that the best place to start is with the octopus - a rare but very welcome character in a picture book and not seen with this level of earnest, smart humor since the dynamic duo of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith brought us Cowboy and Octopus. Farrell's laugh-filled story is exactly the kind that

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9. The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, 292 pp, RL 5

Thanks to a fellow bookseller for introducing me to The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda! I love a good fantasy story that employs fairy tale or mythological characters, creatures and plots, but don't always love what authors do with them. I read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and didn't quite click with his writing style. I gave The Red Pyramid a shot because I wanted to give Riordan

0 Comments on The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, 292 pp, RL 5 as of 7/18/2014 4:21:00 AM
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10. Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm and Jarret J. Krosoczka, 136 pp, RL 3

Comics Squad: Recess! is a very promising sign of the times. Graphic novels for kids are finally a strong enough presence with their creators and characters on the verge of being household names that a book like Comics Squad: Recess! can be conceived and created. And it's sure to be a huge seller, especially at the very reasonable price of $7.99! As you may have guessed, the theme of each

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11. The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 1: The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Dan Santat, 214 pp, RL 3

Along with Adam Gidwitz's phenomenal trilogy that begins with A Tale Dark and Grimm, Suzanne Selfors's Imaginary Veterinary series are very special in my house because they are the first full-fledged novels that my son read on his own, with great enthusiasm AND voraciousness, proving that he has the stamina and drive to move into a new realm of reading. I read and reviewed A Tale Dark and

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12. Learn to Read with Tug the Pup and Friends! Box Set 1, 2, & 3 by Dr. Julie M. Wood, illustrated by Sebastien Braun, RL: EMERGING READER

2014 has been a very exciting year for emerging readers. Publishers finally got the message and started paying more attention to readers who are ready to move beyond leveled readers, but not quite ready to make the jump to chapter books like Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. With less pages, more illustrations, larger font, I have labeled these series Bridge Chapter Books. For years,

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13. The Bear's Escape by Benjamin Chaud

Although I am a big fan of the illustrations of Benjamin Chaud (see below) I missed the boat on The Bear's Song, which he authored and illustrated. Happily, I have the follow up, The Bear's Sea Escape and am thrilled to share it with you! A magnificent cross between an intricately, culturally detailed,  Richard Scarry book and a densely packed Where's Waldo tome, The Bear's Sea Escape 

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14. Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Shane Prigmore

PLANET KINDERGARTEN is a brilliant idea for a picture book - the kind that makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner! PLANET KINDERGARTEN is written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt with a great attention to details when is comes to comparing the first day of kindergarten with a NASA mission. But what really puts PLANET KINDERGARTEN over the top and into orbit are the brilliant illustrations by

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15. Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

Number One Sam is Greg Pizzoli's second picture book, and a fantastic follow up to his debut, The Watermelon Seed. Once again, Pizzoli treats readers to a bright, brisk palette, simple but expressive characters and, once again, a grasp (and gentle presentation) of the anxieties that sometimes confound young children. Number One Sam begins, "Sam was number one." Sam is number one at

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16. Miles to the Finish by Jamie Harper

Miles to the Finish is the follow up to Miles to Go, published in 2010. Miles to Go begins with the words, "Another day, another drive," as Miles heads off to preschool where he and his friends work on their cars. There are plenty of picture books with cars and trucks and things that go - most of which feature adults in the driver's seats. Miles to the Finish and Miles to Go stand out

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17. Milo and Millie by Jedda Robaard

Jedda Robaard's Milo & Millie is a charmingly illustrated story of a boy, his bear and the bath. The book begins, "This is Millie and me." We see Milo holding a folded boat which, if you look closely, you will notice is a map of Robaard's native Tasmania! Milo and Millie are going on an adventure.  They pass a busy city, fearsome (windup) frogs and weather a terrible

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18. My Bus by Byron Barton

I have yet to review a book by Byron Barton here, but he takes up quite a bit of shelf space in the board book section with his fantastic, mostly transportation themed, books. Brightly colorful, with bold, blocky illustrations, Barton has a way with simplicity that is attractive to toddlers. In My Bus, Barton hits a grand slam with several forms of vehicles making an appearance AND a bus

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19. Dinosaurology: The Search for a Lost World, Being an Account of an Expedition into the Unknown South America - 1907 by Raleigh Rimes, assistant to Colonel P.H. Fawcett, RL: 3

Dinosaurology, the newest entry into the Ology series of interactive books that present themselves as scientific journals chock full of artifacts, flaps, fold-outs and envelopes, hides its inspiration in a brief letter at the end of the book from Sir Conan Doyle dated June 4, 1930. In his letter to the president of the British Association of Intrepid Explorers, Doyle explains that his good

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20. Sticky Fingers : DIY Duct Tape Projects - Easy to Pick Up, Hard to Put Down, by Sophie Maletsky, 240 pp, RL: 10 and up

There are so many great things about Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects - Easy to Pick Up, Hard to Put Down by Sophie Maletsky, artist, crafter and professional party planner (Sophie's Stress-Free Soirées) but the best is her YouTube channel - Sophie's World! When making something crafty, I do much better when I have someone showing me how to create and I do best when I have visual and

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21. The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! by Tom Angleberger, 134 pp, RL 3

Of course any book with the word "poop" in the title is going to catch my attention - and that of most young readers. But the fact that  a book with the word "poop" in the title is authored by the fantastic Tom Angleberger makes it a MUST READ. Originally published in 2007 by Dial Books as The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger and now out of print, Abrams Amulet has republished

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22. The Story of Buildings by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty, 96 pp, RL 4

For those of you not familiar with the amazing work of Stephen Biesty, be sure to read my review ofInto the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea and Air, written by Stewart Ross. Sadly, most of Biesty's cross section books are now out of print, but his work shines even brighter when he pairs with other authors, as in Into the Unknown, and now The Story of Buildings,

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23. Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout, 130 pp, RL 3

  It's been so long since I read (and reviewed) a Judy Moody or Stink book (6 years!) that I forgot how much I love both of these characters - especially when their series cross paths. Double rare! Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds have created truly memorable characters in these siblings. On top of that, way back in 2005, five years after the debut of the first Judy Moody, McDonald was

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24. Lizzy Bennet's Diary by Marcia Williams, inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice,

I was familiar with the fantastic books of Marcia Williams when I discovered Lizzy Bennet's Diary and honestly would not have even opened this book if it had been written by almost anyone else. Curious about the origins of Lizzy Bennet's Diary, which is somewhat different from Williams's other books (see below) I turned immediately to the "Dear Reader" pages at the end of the book. There

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25. The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

The Watermelon Seed, Greg Pizzoli's debut picture book, is also the winner of the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award, and honor that often goes to Mo Willems's dynamic, neurotic duo, Elephant & Piggie. This is apt, as Pizzoli's melon-munching-crocodile is every bit as expressive and engaging as Willems's characters and his illustration style, while equally simplistic, is more elegant in execution

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