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Mainly reviews of children's and young adult literature. Primarily focuses on new literature, 2004-present, but may feature older titles if they are "favorites" of mine. Feel free to leave comments. I always enjoy reading what others have to say!
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26. 2015 Completed Challenges: Once Upon A Time

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
Name: Once Upon A Time, sign up post, review site,
Dates: March 21 - June 21, 2015
# of Books:  Quest the First, 5 Books, (They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.)

What I Read:

1) Dragon Slippers. Jessica Day George. 2007. Bloomsbury USA. 324 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. 2012. Random House. 499 pages. [Source: Library]
3) Book of Earth (Bradamante Saga #1) Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 395 pages. [Source: Review copy]
4) Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]
5) Three Tales of My Father's Dragon. Ruth Stiles Gannett. Illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. 1987. Random House. 242 pages. [Source: Library]
6) Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 314 pages. [Source: Library]
7) Palace of Stone. (Princess Academy #2) Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
8) The Forgotten Sisters. (Princess Academy #3) Shannon Hale. 2015. Bloomsbury. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
10) Prince Caspian. C.S. Lewis. 1951. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
11) Dragon Flight. Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
12) Dragon Spear. Jessica Day George. 2009. Bloomsbury USA. 248 pages. [Source: Library]
13) Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) Jasper Fforde. 2005. 383 pages. [Source: Library]
14) The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2) Jasper Fforde. 2006.  382 pages. [Source: Library]
15) Shadow Scale. Rachel Hartman. 2015. Random House. 608 pages. [Source: Review copy]
16) The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales. Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth. Translated by Maria Tatar. 2015. Penguin. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
17) Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
18) Jack. Liesl Shurtliff. 2015. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
19)  The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
20) Book of Three. (The Chronicles of Prydain) Lloyd Alexander. 1964. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
21) The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
22) I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Maisy Learns to Swim (2015)


Maisy Learns to Swim. Lucy Cousins. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Maisy is going swimming today. Time to get ready! Do you have everything you need, Maisy?

Premise/plot: Maisy Learns to Swim is a Maisy First Experiences Book. The book is about her taking swim lessons with her friends. The instructor's name is Poppy. Poppy appears to be a great teacher. The book focuses on the details of a swim lesson: kicking, floating, blowing bubbles, etc.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I like Maisy and her friends. I especially love Eddie the elephant.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. Peppa Goes Swimming (2015)

Peppa Goes Swimming. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's a beautiful, warm summer day. Peppa and her family are at the swimming pool. "Peppa, George, let Daddy put on your swimming armbands," says Mummy Pig. Today is George's first time at the pool, and he's a bit scared of getting in the water.

Premise/plot: Peppa's family is going swimming at the pool. This is George's first time in the pool. Will he like it? Will he love it? Peppa's family hangs out at the pool with Rebecca Rabbit's family. George and Richard have fun together. Rebecca and Peppa have fun together. Fun is had by one and all.

My thoughts: I do love this episode of the show. This adaptation is fun. Recommend the book series to anyone who loves the show.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. 48 Hour Book Challenge Wrap-Up Post

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.

I read 12 books total.

Liz Garton Scanlon's The Great Good Summer.
Lisa Graff's Lost in the Sun.
Nikki Loftin's Wish Girl
Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins
Peter Lourie's Polar Bear Scientists
Christopher Priest's The Prestige
Jon Walter's Close to the Wind
Stephanie Barden's Cinderella Smith
Edward Hogan's The Messengers
Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain
Tim Grove's First Flight Around the World
A.W. Tozer's The Root of the Righteous

I read some in the following books:
James Cross Giblin's The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler
The Bible: John 17-21, Philippians, Jeremiah 1-5, Psalms 107-138

# of pages: 2655 (not counting the Bible reading pages)
# of hours: 18 exactly


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. 48 Hour Readathon, Day 2

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I'll have a post I update throughout day one, and I'll have a post I update throughout day two. My start time is Friday, 9AM.

7:45 Woke Up, Bible Reading: Philippians 1-4, Jeremiah 1-5
8:20-8:40 Breakfast, Still Watching The Prestige
8:40-9:10 Computer time, blogging stuff
9:10 READY TO START DAY TWO's Reading.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Week in Review: June 14-20

The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Nobody's Perfect. David Elliott. Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. Penguin. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
Stella by Starlight. Sharon M. Draper. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. Dr. Seuss (Writing as Theo LeSieg) Illustrated by B. Tobey. 1965. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
London Calls. Gabby Dawnay. Illustrated by Alex Barrow. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved A Mystery That Baffled All of France. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. 2015. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Why We Pray. William Philip. 2015. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Worthy Pursuit. Karen Witemeyer. 2015. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

So many favorites this week! I loved, loved, loved several picture books this week. Including Nobody's Perfect, Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat, and Ask Me. I loved, loved, loved several MG books this past week. The Cottage in the Woods is probably my favorite, but, how can you really compare a fantasy novel to a historical one? Gone Crazy in Alabama and Stella By Starlight are definitely worth recommending.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Seuss on Saturday #25

I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. Dr. Seuss (Writing as Theo LeSieg) Illustrated by B. Tobey. 1965. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I wish 
that I had duck feet.
And I can tell you why.
You can splash around in duck feet.
You don't have to keep them dry.

Premise/plot: A young boy imagines what it would be like to have duck feet, antlers, a whale spout, a tiger tail, and an elephant trunk. He imagines first WHY it would be GREAT. But the more he thinks it out, the more he comes to see the potential problems. Yes, duck feet and a whale spout would be great, but, would his mother like either one on her son?! NO! By the end, the boy concludes that it's great to be himself.

My thoughts: I really love this one. I have always loved this one. The storytelling is just fun. Though I didn't realize as a kid that Big Bill might just be a bully bothering the young hero.

Have you read I Wish That I Had Duck Feet? Did you like it? Did you love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew.   

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. A Fine Dessert (2015)

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A bit more than three hundred years ago, in an English town called Lyme, a girl and a her mother picked wild blackberries. Their hands turned purple with the juice. The thorns of the berry bushes pricked the fabric of their long skirts.

Premise/plot: A Fine Dessert shows four families from four different time periods making the same delicious frozen treat: blackberry fool. The first family is a mother and daughter living in Lyme in 1710. The second family is a mother and daughter--both slaves--living in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1810. The third family is a mother and daughter living in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1910. The fourth family is a father and son living in San Diego, California, in 2010. The recipe hasn't really changed, but, HOW they get the ingredients and HOW they use them has. (For example, how whipped cream is made.)

My thoughts: I liked this one very much. It was very well written. The premise is interesting, but, if it wasn't written so beautifully, I'm not sure it would work. I liked the family aspects of this one. It was a very sweet book.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. Gone Crazy in Alabama (2015)

Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

Vonetta, Fern, and I didn't sleep well last night or the night before. There's something about preparing for a trip that draws my sisters and me closer together than we already are. Maybe it's the planning and excitement of going places or seeing who we're going to see. 

Gone Crazy in Alabama is the third novel about the Gaither sisters. The first two are One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven. I really LOVED both previous books in the series, so my expectations for the third book were HIGH.

In the third book, the three sisters travel on their own to visit relatives in Alabama: they will be visiting their grandma, Big Ma; their great-grandmother, Ma Charles; and their Uncle Varnell, the one who stole from them in P.S. Be Eleven. (Also they will be spending time with Jimmy Trotter their older cousin).

I was not disappointed with Gone Crazy in Alabama. I loved it for much of the same reasons as I loved the previous novels in the series.

I loved the characterization. All three sisters--Delphine, Vonetta, Fern--and their extended family are wonderfully, believably flawed. The tension between the family members feels genuine and not forced. The family from the first book through the third book just feels oh-so-believably-right.

I loved the writing, the storytelling. I loved the dialogue too.

I loved the setting. Gone Crazy in Alabama is set in Alabama in the summer of 1969. Among other things, the book features the family gathering around the television and watching the Apollo 11 moon mission. But the book isn't just about that memorable moment, far from it. Most of the drama in Gone Crazy in Alabama is FAMILY DRAMA. Drama between the sisters' great-aunt and great-grandmother (a family feud) and drama between the three girls themselves. Relationships will be tested...

Gone Crazy in Alabama is a great coming-of-age novel.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. 48 Hour Readathon, Day 1

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I'll have a post I update throughout day one, and I'll have a post I update throughout day two. My start time is Friday, 9AM.

7:30 Woke Up, Bible Reading: John 5-16
8:15 Breakfast
8:35-9:00 Walk #1, Listened to Hawk Nelson's Made; Elevator is one of my favorite walking songs. 
9:00 BEGAN 48 HOUR BOOK CHALLENGE



© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. What Should I Read for the 48 Hour Readathon?!

Tomorrow is the start of the 48 Hour Readathon hosted by MotherReader.  (The rules)

 I've checked out some middle-grade fiction from the library:

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
It's funny how the simplest thing, like riding your bike to the park the way you've done nearly every summer afternoon since you ditched your training wheels, can suddenly become so complicated. If you let it. 
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon 
God is alive and well in Loomer, Texas, so I don't know why Mama had to go all the way to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida to find him, or to find herself, either. 
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
I whip my head toward the airplane window as soon as Dad scoots into my row. 
Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
"Goodbye, school shoes," said Tuesday McGillycuddy, droppoing her battered black lace-ups into a bin full of lunch wraps and orange peel. It was the end of school, for the day, for the week, for the year. 
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
The summer before I turned thirteen, I held so still it almost killed me. 
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold
 That evening Amanda Shuffleup opened her wardrobe door and hung her coat up on a boy.
Other library possibilities:
  •  Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (a reread)
  • The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (a reread)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (a reread)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (a reread) 
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Stella by Starlight (2015)

Stella by Starlight. Sharon M. Draper. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

Nine robed figures dressed all in white. Heads covered with softly pointed hoods. Against the black of night, a single wooden cross blazed. Reflections of peppery-red flames shimmered across the otherwise dark surface of Kilkenny Pond. 

Stella by Starlight is set in Bumblebee, North Carolina, in the fall of 1932. What can I say about this one? I could say many things, but, I'll start with this: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT.

I loved the narration. I loved the heroine, Stella, she makes a remarkable narrator. I loved her voice and her spirit. I loved the characterization--it was rich. I loved meeting Stella and her brother, Jojo. I loved her parents. I loved getting to know her neighbors. I loved that we get a real sense of community and place. It was the kind of novel that is completely absorbing--compelling. I loved the drama and the intensity. Stella by Starlight is what happens in one community after three African-American men decide to register to vote. The book captures why the men chose to act, what voting meant to them, what it represented. The book captures what it meant to their families and the community as well. Stella knows, for example, that it is a courageous act for her father, and, a necessary one as well. She's proud of her father for doing what he feels is right--knows is right. But Stella also knows a healthy-fear of the KKK. The book captures that uncertainty, that fear, it brings the community together as one. I also loved the religious/spiritual aspects of this one: how central the church is, how central the Christian faith is in the community. It celebrates faith, and shows it to be a powerful force. Stella by Starlight is beautifully written. I highly recommend it! 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Library Loot: Third and Fourth Trips in June

New Loot:
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
  • Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
  • The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff.
  • Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon
  • Perfidia by James Ellroy
  • The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
  • Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
  • The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • Mr. Brown Can Moon! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
  • The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
Leftover Loot:
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
  • Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston
  • Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • The Christian World of the Hobbit by Devin Brown
  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
       Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. I Know A Story (1938)

I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]

This is a decades-old reading textbook featuring folk tales! It includes these stories:
  • The Gingerbread Boy
  • The Three Bears
  • Billy Goats Gruff
  • Mr. Vinegar
  • The Straw Ox
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Boy Who Went to the North Wind
It also includes these poems:
  • The Rabbit
  • Mice
  • In The Fashion
  • Chipmunk
  • Mother Goose Rhymes
  • Indian Children
  • The Woodpecker
  • The Animal Store
  • A Visit From St. Nicholas
I was familiar with many of these stories, you probably are as well. But a few were new-to-me. For example, I'd never heard "Mr. Vinegar," "The Straw Ox," or "The Boy Who Went to the North Wind."
"Mr. Vinegar" was a strange story of a foolish man. The ending made no sense either! But despite its strangeness, there were some elements I found myself liking.

Overall, I liked the stories much better than the poetry. My favorite story was probably "The Boy Who Went to the North Wind."


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. The Cottage in the Woods (2015)


The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

The Cottage in the Woods, they called it. Later on that became the gatekeeper's lodge, yet they had been so happy there that they kept the name for their grand new manor house. Mr. Vaughn couldn't have been any prouder if he had built that place with his own two paws. It was his vision, his will behind it all, as if he'd wrestled it from rock and timber himself. It was no cottage either. The very thought is laughable. 

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Katherine Coville's The Cottage in the Woods. It was giddy-making.

So, you may think you know the story of the Three Bears. But do you know the true story of The Three Bears? How would you like to learn the true story from someone who witnessed it all: the governess of Master Teddy (baby bear). Her name is Ursula. and The Cottage in the Woods is her story.

Ursula is a recent graduate from Miss Pinchkin's Academy for Young Ladies. Her first job is as a governess for the upper-class Vaughn family. For the most part, she finds the family welcoming--or welcoming enough as is proper their station and hers. Her first impression of Master Teddy is pleasant enough. But her first impression of Master Teddy's Nurse?! Well, she feels disturbed and threatened from the start. But first impressions can sometimes be deceiving, for example, her first impressions of MR. BENTLEY.

If you enjoy drama, mystery, and romance, then The Cottage in the Woods may be just right for you. It is a retelling of The Three Bears that reads like a classic Victorian novel. 

I loved the premise. I loved the writing--the storytelling. I loved the characterization and the dialogue. I loved everything about it!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Ask Me (2015)

Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence:
Ask me what I like.
What do you like?
I like dogs.
I like cats.
I like turtles.
I like geese.
Geese in the sky? Or Geese in the water?
I like geese in the sky. No, in the water. I like both. Ask me what else I like.

Premise/plot: A father and daughter enjoy their time together in the evening. The book begins with the two together talking at the park on a lovely fall day. The book ends with him putting her to bed. The book from beginning to end is their conversation together.
Ask me if I like ice cream cones.
Do you like ice cream cones?
No. I love, love, love ice cream cones. 
My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading this one. I think I liked it even better the second or third time. The more attention I gave the illustrations, the better I liked it. The text itself is lovely. But I love, love, love, LOVE the illustrations by Suzy Lee. I am not sure I could pick a favorite spread, but, I've got two that I especially love. I love the one where the little girl is sitting on her father's shoulders and eating an ice cream cone. (They're both eating ice cream.) And I love the next page when they're both stomping or marching through the piles of leaves, and she's holding a red balloon. There is just something joyous about the whole book: the text and the illustrations.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Nobody's Perfect (2015)

Nobody's Perfect. David Elliott. Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Nobody's perfect." That's what everybody says. And I guess they're right. Like Gigi. She's my sister. She's not perfect. She's loud! Really loud!

Premise/plot: While in a time-out, a young boy reflects on his life realizing that "everybody" is right after all: nobody's perfect. Readers learn about his life: his family, his friends, the good times and bad. It's a simple book, in a way. Funny and sweet too. I think the story is easy to relate to for many.

My thoughts: Did I really, really like this one? Or did I really, really love it?! That is the question. Only time can say for sure. But I definitely felt an emotional connection with this one! I think the page that won me over completely was this one, "I'm not perfect either. This is my room before I clean it." Turn the page, "This is my room after I clean it." The illustrations show that AFTER he TRIES to clean it, it is EVEN messier. And notice: HE'S NOW ON THE BED READING A BOOK. How could I not love this kid?! And that isn't the only clue that this kid loves to read! Overall, I would definitely recommend this one!!!

I loved the text. The illustrations? Well, some pages I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. And other pages, I merely "liked" them.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. London Calls (2015)

London Calls. Gabby Dawnay. Illustrated by Alex Barrow. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Big Ben is chiming; it's quarter to eight and London is calling, we mustn't be late...
We jump on a bus where an oyster's the fare and over the river to Parliament Square!

Premise/plot: London Calls! is a rhyming tour book, or "travel" book, for young children.  The tour guides are Granny Rose and little Pearl. These two are featured on every spread. The last few pages of this one feature a dialogue between these two. The dialogue is packed with trivia.

My thoughts: I like this little book. It has a certain charm to it.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10
 
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Seuss on Saturday #24

Fox in Socks. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
Fox
Socks
Box
Knox
Knox in box.
Fox in socks.
Knox on fox in socks in box. 

Premise/plot: Straight from the cover: This is a book you READ ALOUD to find out just how smart your tongue is. The first time you read it, don't go fast! This Fox is a tricky fox. He'll try to get your tongue in trouble. I couldn't really say it better than that. The main characters are the fox and Mr. Knox. Can Mr. Knox outfox the Fox?!

My thoughts: I love, love, love Fox in Socks. This is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books. It's just so silly, so over-the-top, so memorable. Do you have a favorite scene or two?
New goo. Blue goo.
Gooey. Gooey.
Blue goo. New goo.
Gluey. Gluey.
Gooey goo
for chewy chewing!
When tweetle beetles fight,
it's called
a tweetle beetle battle.
And when they
battle in a puddle,
it's a tweetle
beetle puddle battle.
AND when tweetle beetles
battle with paddles in a puddle,
they call it a tweetle
beetle puddle paddle battle.
AND...
Those are two of my favorites scenes.

Have you read Fox in Socks? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Wish That I Had Duck Feet.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. I Will Take A Nap

I Will Take A Nap. Mo Willems. 2015. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am tired. And cranky. I will take a nap! I like to nap. I am happier when I am rested.

Premise/plot: Gerald, the elephant, is TIRED and CRANKY. What does Gerald need? A nap, of course! Will Gerald get a nap, a PROPER nap, that is?! Or will Piggie keep him from getting the rest he so desperately needs?!

My thoughts: I liked this one very much. Of course, I always like Gerald and Piggie very much. I adore this series so much. I liked it for all the reasons I like Elephant & Piggie. I like the relationship between Gerald and Piggie, their friendship. I like how these two balance each other out. They just make a great team. I like Gerald. I like Piggie. But together they are better. Together they are perfect. But one of the strongest reasons I like the series so much is how expressive the books are. I love the illustrations. Gerald and Piggie are drawn with such expression--such emotion--on every page. And these expressions are oh-so-easy to relate to! For example, I love Gerald's expression when Piggie wakes him up on page 12! And Gerald's expression when Piggie is doing all the snoring?! Loved it! That one is on page 34.

Have you read I Will Take A Nap? Did you like it? love it?

Do you have a favorite book in the series?


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Under a Pig Tree (2015)

Under A Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit. Margie Palatini. Illustrated by Chuck Groenink. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pigs appear in the earliest recorded history. Pigs were presented as "medals" to the winners of the first Olympics in 776 BC. Every citizen of ancient Athens, including Plato, was called "A Friend of the Pig." Figs, people. These are facts about FIGS! 

Premise/plot: What would happen if a publisher got one little letter consistently wrong in an author's new book? Under A Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit illustrates what might happen if every instance of the word FIG became PIG. The illustrator also did not catch the publisher's mistake--the illustrations couldn't be more pig-filled! The author has notes--passionate notes--to the publisher throughout the book. 

My thoughts: What a fun book! The premise is silly, but, it didn't get old for me. I found it funny from cover to cover. Who could resist silly sentences like this:
Nothing is better than a pig right off a tree. Look for the ones on low branches. They droop a bit but feel nice and soft, and are not mushy.
I really enjoyed the text. I did. But I loved the illustrations. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations. 

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Week in Review: June 7-13

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
The Upstairs Room. Johanna Reiss. 1972.  HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Far Side of Evil. Sylvia Engdahl. 1971/2003. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
The Infernal Device. Michael Kurland. 1978. 255 pages. [Source: Library]
Death by Gaslight. Michael Kurland. 1982. 279 pages. [Source: Library]
Jack. Liesl Shurtliff. 2015. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Under A Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit. Margie Palatini. Illustrated by Chuck Groenink. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Will Take A Nap. Mo Willems. 2015. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Fox in Socks. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
Julie. Catherine Marshall. 1984/1985. Avon. 428 pages. [Source: Bought]
George Whitefield: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought. James L. Schwenk. 2015. P&R Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus. Paul E. Miller. 2001/2014. NavPress. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

This week's recommendation(s):

I would have to say the autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder--Pioneer Girl!!!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. The Summer of the Swan (1970)

The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Sara Godfrey was lying on the bed tying a kerchief on the dog, Boysie.

I'm so glad that Hope is the Word is hosting a Newbery Through the Decades reading challenge. June is the month dedicated to reading winners and honors from the 1970s. I may never have picked up Betsy Byars' The Summer of the Swans without a little extra motivation. And The Summer of the Swans? Well, it's compelling, very compelling.

Sara loves her brother Charlie. She does. But she doesn't always like him, or, like having to take care of him all the time. To be fair, Sara, on the day we meet her, is in a bit of a mood. This is one of those days when it seems almost every person in Sara's life is frustrating or annoying her. Sara's day will get worse before it gets better.

I really liked The Summer of the Swans. I liked the intensity of it. Charlie goes missing in the night, and that changes everything. Primarily we see this through Sara's perspective. Though we know that it is upsetting news to their Aunt Willie as well. Everyone in the neighborhood gets involved including a boy, Joe, that Sara really doesn't like or trust. Will Sara, however, change her mind about Joe after spending the day with him? after seeing the 'real' him? Will Charlie be found? Is he okay?

The Summer of the Swans won a Newbery in 1971.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat (2015)

Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. Penguin. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Cat! You lost a tooth! Did the Tooth Fairy come? She left you a coin! What's the matter? You wanted to meet her? Aw, Cat. I understand...

Premise/plot: A disappointed cat tricks the Tooth Fairy and is punished for his trickery by having to assist the Tooth Fairy on three jobs. If Cat does well, will a meeting with the Tooth Fairy be the result?! 

My thoughts: I know there are others in this series, but, this was my first time meeting Cat. I loved it. I did. I really did. I thought Cat was adorable. Yes, Cat was a bit naughty to want to trick the Tooth Fairy. Yes, Cat, had some not-so-nice thoughts about the Mouse who was also helping the Tooth Fairy. But I love Cat all the same!!! I also found myself loving the narrative. The narrative is all in second person, and, it worked for me really well. I think that's one of the reasons why I loved it so very much. I also LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Text: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Mesmerized (2015)

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved A Mystery That Baffled All of France. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. 2015. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The day Ben Franklin first set foot in Paris, France, he found the city all abuzz. Everyone was talking about something new--remarkable thrilling and strange. Something called science. Parisians giggled at a gas that nobody could see--till it went up in flames. Voila! They gasped at the balloon that floated high above the rooftops carrying a duck, a rooster, and a very nervous sheep. And they went absolutely gaga over the American in the peculiar fur hat. Because everyone had heard about Ben Franklin's famous kite experiment, which showed that lightning was the same as electricity. But soon all Paris was abuzz about somebody new. Someone remarkable--thrilling--and definitely strange. Someone called Dr. Mesmer.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Mesmerized. I can't say I came to the book with an interest in the subject. But the storytelling won me over by the end. It is about Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Mesmer, the scientific method, the placebo effect, and hypnosis. The book does more than tell young readers about the scientific method, the book shows the scientific method in action.
 
This picture book is a good example that nonfiction can be compelling and fascinating. Storytelling doesn't have to be fiction to be good, to be entertaining.

 I really enjoyed the text of this one. I did. But I found myself LOVING the illustrations.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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