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Results 1 - 25 of 314
1. #670 – Druthers by Matt Phelan

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Druthers

Written & Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Candlestick Press       9/09/2014
978-0-7636-5955-4     top book of 2015 general
32 pages        Age 2—5
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“It’s raining and raining and raining, and Penelope is bored. “What would you do if you had your druthers?” asks her daddy. Well, if Penelope had her druthers, she’d go to the zoo. Or be a cowgirl. Or a pirate captain who sails to the island of dinosaurs, or flies away on a rocket to the moon. If Penelope had her druthers, she’d go off on amazing adventures — but then again, being stuck inside may not be so bad if your daddy is along for the ride!”  [publisher]

Review
It’s a rainy day and young Ms. Penelope is bored. Rain continues flowing down the window and the sky remains dark. Dad is home reading a book—good for you dad—and he notices his daughter’s frustration and boredom. Dad asks Penelope,

“If you had your druthers, what would you do?”

What are druthers?”

“Druthers are what you would rather do if you could do anything at all.”

Penelope decides if she had her druthers, she and dad would go to the zoo. That is just what they do. Hunkered down behind the bars of a stair railing, dad becomes a caged ape. “Ooo-ooo-ooo,” Dad calls out from his “cage.”

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But druthers change and Penelope decides she would like to be a cowgirl. Dad strides one arm of the couch and his daughter the other. Together they ride their horses . . . until Penelope decides being a pirate would be fun . . . and flying to the moon . . . and . . . with dad tuckered out Penelope makes one final druthers.

“But I guess if I really had my druthers . . . “

Druthers is a wonderful book for rainy days or any boring day. It exemplifies the creativity of imagination. Dad is a hoot and the perfect parent to spend a day with, on any day. I also love that while Penelope is staring out the window waiting for the rain to stop, Dad is reading a book. What a wonderful detail to promote reading. I also love all the activities the two imagined while laughing, singing, dancing, smiling, and enjoying each other while playing together like best friends.

The illustrations are wonderful and do a great job of visualizing all of Penelope’s druthers. Kids and parents will love the story and each scenario and, like myself, all the details that make everything come alive. Druthers allows you to experience the fun, and laugh along with Dad and Penelope. There are not enough books with dad directly involved with his child. Druthers is the best “Dad book”and a wonderful gift idea for Father’s Day (tie not included).

Penelope’s really druthers,

“. . . it would rain tomorrow, too.”

Druthers is a keeper! If I had my druthers, every dad would share this book with his child(ren), boy or girl.

DRUTHERS. Text and illustrations © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Sommerville, MA.
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Purchase Druthers at AmazonBook DepositoryCandlewick Press.

Learn more about Druthers HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Matt Phelan, at his website:  http://www.mattphelan.com/studio-tour.html
Find more picture books at the Candlewick Press website:  http://www.candlewick.com

Full Disclosure: Druthers, by Matt Phelan, and received from Candlewick Press, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews, and no one else. This is disclosed in accordance with The Federal Trade Commission 16CFR, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Candlewick Press, creativity, daddy books, Druthers, family relationships, great Father's Day gift, imagination, Matt Pheln

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2. #669 – Sherlock Academy by F. C. Shaw

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Sherlock Academy

Written by F. C. Shaw
Future House Publishing         3/16/2015*
978-0-09891253-4-5       
214 pages        Age 8—12
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“Teachers in disguise. Secret libraries, hollow books . . . All these and more await eleven-year-old Rollie Wilson at the mysterious Academy of Fine Sleuths. When Rollie and his best friend, Cecily, are invited to attend a school where children learn the art of detection just like the great Sherlock Holmes, they discover a strange burglary has been committed and a mystery is a foot. Determined to investigate, Rollie discovers that appearances can be deceiving, the truth can be hurtful, and friends sometimes turn into foes. Does Rollie have what it takers to follow in Holmes footsteps? Can he use his skills to solve the mystery and save the school from an unknown villain?”

The Story
Rollie Wilson is the middle child of five and the only non-twin. That makes it difficult for Rollie to gain his family’s attention; even Great Auntie Ei, who shows Rollie both attention and affection, finds herself preoccupied with Herr Zilch , a mastermind thief who continues to allude Scotland Yard. But when an invitation arrives for Rollie, the entire family is interested.

“Rollie E. Wilson:

“It is our pleasure to inform you of your eligibility for the Sherlock Holmes Academy of Fine Sleuths. We believe you possess the qualities we seek in fine students . . . bring only the following item [to orientation]: your favorite book.”

Rollie’s best friend, Cecily, also receives an invitation, and both are admitted, each taking their favorite Sherlock Holmes book, which is placed into a strange library by staff. To get their book back, students must figure out how the library shelves work. No student has ever figured the out the secret or retrieved their book. Rollie intends to be the first, but is interrupted. Someone has broken into the library, for what no one knows—or is saying. Deciphering all the secrets (library, teachers,and other characters), will put Rollie and his family into grave danger.

Review
Sherlock Academy will not only entertain readers, it might just encourage kids to learn about codes—explained well in the story—or to simply pick up a Sherlock Holmes story for the first time. The characters are will developed. Rollie and his best buddy Cecily solve most every question by asking themselves five basic questions about the problem or situation at hand: Who? What? Why?, When? and How?

Rollie and Cecily have been neighborhood detectives for quite sometime, often using binoculars to spy on Mr. Crenshaw, Rollie’s next-door neighbor. Crenshaw enjoys this sleuthing, often waving back or inviting the two junior sleuths in for tea and sending Auntie Ei chocolates (which she loves). Careful observation will glean that Crenshaw’s activities are the first of many clues that somethings are not always what they seem to be.

My only negative, to me, was how easy it is to figure out where Auntie Ei’s nemesis, Herr Zilch, is hiding between criminal acts, though his plans took me by surprised. There are several characters with secrets, including the eighty-year-old aunt, which are not evident until the end. The author does a great job of teasing the reader and then sending them in a new direction, once again confusing things. Rollie, being good detective—with his Watson (Cecily)—figures out most mysteries, but has a final surprise that leads him, and readers, to book 2.

This is year one for Rollie and Cecily at Sherlock Academy. What will Shaw put them in the middle of during year two is something I cannot wait to discover. Sherlock Academy is a wonderful mystery even younger kids can enjoy. There are a few detective terms that might send them to a dictionary (always a good thing), but over all. Sherlock Academy, with its well-written story, will keep readers turning the pages and entertaining them until the very mysterious end. Herr Zilch should return as Rollie’s nemesis, as will the teachers, plus probably one new goofball to replace the one that leaves. If you like mysteries, if you like Sherlock Holmes, if you like relatively fast reads with well-kept secrets and a nice flow, well, then Sherlock Academy is the new series for you. Enjoy!

SHERLOCK ACADEMY. Text copyright © 2015 by F. C. Shaw. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Future House Publishing, Orem, UT.

*First published on July 31, 2009
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Purchase Sherlock Academy at AmazonBook Depository.
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Learn more Sherlock Academy HERE.
Meet the author, F. C. Shaw, at her website: www.sherlockacademy.com
Find other middle grade novels at the Future House Publishing website: www.futurehousepublishing.com

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original cover
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Full Disclosure: Sherlock Academy, by F. C. Shaw, and received from Future House Publishing, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews and no one else’s. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CRF, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: F. C. Shaw, Future House Publishing, mystery, Sherlock Holmes, suspense

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3. #667 – LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser

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Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age

. . . . .(How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species)
Written by David Zeltser
Illustrations by Jan Gerardi
Egmont USA          2014
978-1-60684-513-4
190 pages       Age 8 to 12
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“In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding it against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game. The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. Because Lug is different, his clan’s Big Man is out to get him, he’s got a pair of bullies on his case—oh, and the Ice Age is coming. When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo (a Boar Rider girl!). In a world experiencing some serious global cooling, these misfits must protect their feuding clans from the impending freeze and a particularly unpleasant pride of migrating saber-toothed tigers.” [book jacket]
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About the Story
The clan has broken into two factions, the Macrauchenia Riders and the Boar Riders. Each clan believes the other are uncivilized—without laws, few table manners, and possibly cannibals—yet each clan is living exactly like the other clan lives. The two only get together for the Big Game, called Headstone, where, using stones, they bash in opponents’ heads. To become cavemen, caveboys must catch an animal to ride in the Big Game.

Lug, a smaller caveboy, is the outsider, the one the bullies and their cohorts pick on. He has no interest in Headstone. Lug AG4simply wants to draw, something not understood by others. He fails to catch a llama and is banished to the woods, along with Stone, who also failed. The hot and humid weather is getting colder, something Lug notices but others brush off. The Ice Age is on its way and no one will listen, except Crazy Crag—banished years ago—and Hamela (aka Echo), a Boar Rider girl. To make matters worse, a pride of hungry saber-toothed tigers is migrating south and heading for the clans—and a meal of cave-people-steak. The cave kids try to save their people with the help of Woolly, a baby woolly mammoth, lost from its family, who can communicate with Echo. Living alone in the woods, Crazy Crag has figured out a few things. Can Lug learn Crazy Crag’s secret in time to save the clans people, or will they become extinct?

Review
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LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age
has all the elements of a book: fast-paced action, suspense, and good characters the reader can relate to and enjoy. Written for middle grade kids, younger advanced readers will also enjoy LUG’s charm. I like the cover and the illustrations, which are black-and-white cave-like drawings, slanted enough to often be funny. The story itself has kid-funny action and characters. Reading it will make you laugh and sometimes groan at the word play, (Headstone; Smilus, the ruthless head saber-tooth tiger; Bonehead, the Big Man’s son).

I love the curly-haired Echo, who is an activist and a vegetarian, possibly the world’s first. I also loved the coming of the CG 4 EchoIce Age’s parallel to today’s climate crisis. LUG might make kids more aware of their own climate changing. Lug agrees, writing in a pre-story note,

“. . . You see, the world began to get colder—much colder. And my clan initially reacted by doing this:

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“That’s right, a whole lot of NOTHING . . . I hope this story will inspire you to pay attention to the big changes happening to your world. If you are extinct, sorry.”

There are no prehistoric dinosaurs, but the animals you will find have interesting qualities, including finding a way to talk to humans. More than anything, I like LUG because it is a good story. If cave kids could read, they would have enjoyed LUG

Lug returns for more prehistoric climate-change adventures this Fall (2015) in LUG: Blast from the North (working title). LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age is David Zeltser’s debut children’s series.  (20% of proceeds go to organizations that help children and families in need.)

LUG: DAWN OF THE ICE AGE (HOW ONE SMALL BOY SAVED OUR BIG DUMB SPECIES). Text copyright © 2014 by David Zeltser. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jan Gerardi. Published in 2014 by Egmont USA, New York, NY.
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Purchase LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age at AmazoniTunesBook DepositoryEgmont USA.

Learn more about LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age HERE.
Meet the author, David Zeltser, at his website:  http://www.davidzeltser.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jan Gerardi, short bio:  http://bit.ly/19Z1Vh3
Find more Middle Grade Books at the Egmont USA website:  http://egmontusa.com/

Curriculum Guide can be found HERE.
Activity Guide can be found HERE.
fcc LUG DAWN OF THE ICE AGE 2014

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Fast Friday Read, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: cavemen, children's books, David Zeltser, Egmont USA, humor, Jan Gerardi, LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age, prehistoric era

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4. #662 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

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How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

 

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


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Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
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Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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5. #663 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

cover amx

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How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


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Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
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Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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fcc

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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6. #662 – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School… by Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud

COVERx

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School…

Written by Davide Cali
Illustrations by Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books              3/3/2015
978-1-4521-3168-9
40 pages            Age 8 to 12

“EXCUSES, EXCUSES! Or are they? First, some giant ants steal breakfast. Then there are the evil ninjas, massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest? From “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .” author/illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud comes a fast-paced, action-packed, laugh-out-loud story about finding your way to school despite the odds—and unbelievable oddness!”

Review
In the same style as I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . (HERE), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . contains hilarious excuses why this young boy is late for school. Will the teacher believe these excuses any more than she believed why he did not do his homework? Will you believe?

Would you believe the boy missed breakfast because giant ants stole it from him? Would you believe a huge—and I mean HUGE—ape mistook the school bus for a banana? Would you believe the boy meet a girl wearing a red coat and needing help finding her grandmother’s house in the woods? No?

A Funny Thing Happened_Int_It's a Long Story... Giant Ants

The illustrations are great. The title page shows the first book lying on the floor, open as if the boy had been reading it the night before. The clock shows he is late, as does the look on his dog’s face. There are so many little details on each page it could take you a long time to finish this quick read. If you have read Farewell Floppy (reviewed soon) The Bear’s Song (HERE), or Bear’s Sea Escape (HERE), you will instantly recognize Chaud’s distinctive style.

The excuses may be wild but the young boy actually makes it to school on time . . . then realizes he forgot his backpack (with his homework inside). I love this reference to I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., which brings the two books full circle. I hope that does not mean this is the end of the line for the young boy, his imagination—or is it real—and the teacher who patiently listens to the young boy’s story.

A Funny Thing Happened_Int_Ninjas and Majorettes

This is hilarious and kids of all ages will appreciate the young boy trying in vain to get to school on time. Along the way, look out for the Little Red Riding Hood, the Pied Piper, falling—rather grabbed by mole people—into a sewer hole ala Alice in Wonderland, the Gingerbread House, Bigfoot, and Yeti. Of course, there is a fabulous twist and a most humorous ending befitting the young boy’s trouble getting to school. If you liked I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., you will love A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . .Together, the two books make a great double-tale of middle grade woe.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL . . . Text copyright © 2015 by Davide Cali. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Benjamin Chaud. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

(CHeck this out!) BEHIND THE SCENES: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL…
Learn more about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . HERE.

Meet the author, Davide Cali, at his facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Davide-Cali/164285603678359?
Meet the illustrator, Benjamin Chaud, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.chaud.1
Find great books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: 978-1-4521-3168-9, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School..., Benjamin Chaud, Chronicle Books, Davide Cali, kid's excuses, late for school, school excuses

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7. #661 – Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds by Dale Kutzera

Wattpad Coverx

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Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds

Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
Written by Dale Kutzera
Illustrated by Joemel Requeza
Salmon Bay Books        10/6/2014
978-0-69202392-1
285 pages Age 8 to 12
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“Andy McBean is struggling to survive Middle School in the soggy hills of the Pacific Northwest. He’s messy, fearful of bullies, and hates the rain. And spending much of the last year in the hospital battling leukemia hasn’t helped. Then one night a meteor storm devastates the county, cutting off power and communications. One giant boulder skids to a halt right on Andy’s front lawn. The glowing meteor draws the attention of neighbors, the media, the army, and even the new girl from Andy’s art class. He is thrilled at the notoriety, but everything changes when the meteor cracks opens and a towering machine steps out. Separated from his family, Andy must fend for himself and rescue his friends. Join Andy on this thrilling adventure as he meets an alien, learns what they want on planet earth, and devises a bold plan to stop them.”

The Story

Andy wakes one morning to find an alien pod on his front lawn. Mom’s roses are ruined. The aliens are here to collect—using a Vaporizer—all the water found on Earth, including that of humans, who are more than 60% water. These creatures travel the universe harvesting water from planets without significant life. The “Big Heads,” who bark the orders, make a decision: humans are not significant. Large tripod machines crush homes and businesses with grabbers capable of sweeping up people and holding them in a cage, until it is time to vaporize them for their watery bodies.

Andy gets away and rescues Charlie from her ruined home and then his best friend Hector. They avoid the large, bulky “Thugs,” who bully the worker aliens until they obey the Big Heads’ commands, and the crushing arms of the grabbers. Andy befriends a worker alien by the name of Been’Tok. Been’Tok, Andy, Hector, Charlie, and Andy’s dad plan to shut down the vaporizer, free the hostages, and send the aliens back to where they came from. But can an eight-year-old boy, recently recovered from bouts of leukemia treatment, save his world?

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Review

Inspired by War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds actually brings the aliens to Earth. The action is fast. Andy and his friends are easy to like and fun to watch as they travel by foot. The story is believable, though Andy has several lucky escapes from the aliens (great fun!). Been’Tok is a cute, three-eyed monster with a heart and soul. He loves collecting the odd artifacts he finds while vaporizing various planets for the water his planet desperately needs. He disagrees with his commander, believing humans are significant, especially after Andy saves his life.

The cuteness of Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds reminded me of E. T., even though the two are different types of stories. Until the end, it is not clear whether Been’Tok wants to return home. He enjoys the company of Andy and his friends. The communication barriers make for some delightful scenes as Been’Tok tries to learn Andy’s language. World leaders and military might around the world meeting Been’Tok is funny. Unfortunately, there are several typos throughout the book, but I could actually ignore them—a first—thanks to the intense story that held my interest (though that does not excuse the sloppy editing). Black and white illustrations enhance the story.

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Middle grade kids, especially boys, will love the world Kutzera created.  The three-tiered aliens can be humorous and dangerous at the same time. Readers will find several surprises along the way and a happy conclusion. Andy is a terrific character from his loyalty to his best friend Hector, his desire to impress Charlie—the new girl at school—and his valiant attempts to move past his illness, despite his parents’ fears and coddling. Will Andy McBean have future adventures?* If he does, I hope Been’Tok finds a way to join him.am4
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ANDY MCBEAN AND THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Text copyright © 2014 by Dale Kutzera. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Joemel Requeza. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Salmon Bay Books, Seattle, WA.

*Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
. . . . .   .    . #2: Andy McBean 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea released 12/29/2014

Purchase Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds at AmazonB&NSmashwords.
Learn more about Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds HERE
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Meet the author, Dale Kutzera at his website: http://dalekutzera.com/
Meet the illustrator, Joemel Requeza, at his website:
Find Salmon Bay Books here:
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: aliens, Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds, Dale Kutzera, Joemel Requeza, relationships, Salmon Bay Books, saving the world, The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean

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8. #660 – Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart by Jennifer Adams & Ron Stucki

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Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart
Sequel to Edgar Gets Ready For Bed
Written by Jennifer Adams
Illustrated by Ron Stucki
Gibbs Smith           9/20/2014
978-1-4236-3766-0
32 pages           Age 4 to 8
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Edgar is dreadfully nervous.. The rambunctious raven knocked over his mother’s prized stone sculpture. But even the influence of his sister, Lenore, threatening to tattle can’t keep Edgar from trying to hide his misdeed.”

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Review

Mom leaves her two little ravens alone for a short while with paper and crayons to occupy them. Little boys being little boys, Edgar—inspired by The Raven— decides to make paper airplanes and throws them at Lenore. Lenore hides. Edgar runs after her with another plane, knocks into a table, and accidentally breaking a statue.

“Look what you did! I’m telling mom when she gets home.”

Sisters can be such difficult creatures. Edgar, hoping mom won’t notice, tries to hide the broken piece. A little mouse suggests under a floorboard and then in a drawer. Finally, while hearing Lenore repeat her I’m-going-to-tell mantra, Edgar and the mouse try to fix the statue—as its eyes look fearfully at the mouse’s offering of tape.

gss pdf 1The illustrations, are black and white with red highlights and light purple backgrounds. This gives the feeling one is peaking in on the raven’s home as the scenes unfold. The story, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, uses a statue—head bust—of Poe, who watches over the children, his eyes darting here and there, providing additional humor for those that notice. The illustrations are very good, though near the end, when the ravens speak their mouths no longer open as they do earlier. Certainly only a small detail and one children may not notice.

When mom returns, Lenore is ready to tell on Edgar, who, with the helpful mouse, has been pacing ever since “fixing” the statue of Poe. Mom stops Lenore short, admonishing her not to tattle. She asks Edgar,

“Edgar, do you have something to tell me?”

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Edgar tearfully apologizes. Mom reminds the young raven how much she loves him; a sweet ending to a typical brother-sister afternoon. Children will laugh at the two ravens, while parents will immediately recognize the tattle-tell from their own lives or that of their children. Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart is a beautifully illustrated story told succinctly in dialogue. It should be another hit in Gibbs Smith’s line of literary-based BabyLit® children’s books. (BabyLit® First Step book)

EDGAR AND THE TATTLE-TALE HEART. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Adams. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Ron Stucki. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gibbs Smith, UT.

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Purchase Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryGibb Smith.

Read more about Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart HERE.
Meet the author, Jennifer Adams, at her website:  http://jennifer-adams.com/
Meet the illustrator, Ron Stucki, at creativehotlist: http://www.creativehotlist.com/Individuals/details/200567 
Find more BabyLit® at the Gibbs Smith website: www.gibbs-smith.com
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Edgar Gets Ready for Bed: A BabyLit® First Steps Picture book

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: BabyLit®, BabyLit® First Step book, Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart, family, gibbs smith, Jennifer Adams, relationships. Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Stucki, siblings, tattle telling

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9. #659 – Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox & Stephanie Graegin

9780803740914_medium_Peace_is_an_Offering

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Peace is an Offering

Written by Annette LeBox
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Dial Books for Young Readers         3/10/2015
978-0-8037-4091-4
40 pages          Age 3 to 5

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“Peace is an offering.
A muffin or a peach.
A birthday invitation.
A trip to the beach.

“Follow these neighborhood children as they find love in everyday things—in sunlight shining through leaves and cookies shared with friends—and learn that peace is all around, if you just look for it.”

Review

Peace is an Offering contains a strong message about what the abstract concept of peace means for the young (and old): helping one another, being kind, joining together, and enjoying all aspects of life with respect to your family, friends, and neighbors. Peace does not need to be overcomplicated or forced. Peace is the accumulation of all the small, meaningful acts we do each day.

“Will you stay with me?
Will you be my friend?
Will you listen to my story
till the very end?”

The children in this large neighborhood, make, find, and (most importantly), show kindness to each other every day in simple heartfelt ways. The poem is beautifully written and illustrated. Children will easily understand each deftly visualized line or verse of the poem. Multicultural children interact with each other, families spend time together, and friends stay close.

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What is not to love about Peace is an Offering? Nothing, though the spread alluding to 911 seems unnecessary. The verse feels out of place, as does the illustration, which deviates from the light, airy, everyday life depicted on the other spreads (see two examples here). but for those who lost a loved one or friend, the spread may provide comfort. Peace is an Offering is a gratifying read; uplifting and inspiring young and old alike. The author finishes the poem by offering advice to children.

So offer a cookie,
Walk away from a fight.
Comfort a friend
Through the long, dark night.

I loved every aspect of every spread. The poetry speaks to the heart. Pencil and watercolor illustrations have those details I rave about. Simply said, Peace is an Offering is a joy to read.

PEACE IS AN OFFERING. Text copyright © 2015 by Annette LeBox. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Graegin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Penguin Random House, NY.
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Purchase Peace is an Offering at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPenguin Random House.
Learn more about Peace is an Offering HERE.

Meet the author, Annette LeBox, at her website:  http://annettelebox.com/
Meet the illustrator, Stephanie Graegin, at her website:  http://graegin.com/
Find more picture books at Dial Books for Young Readers website:  http://www.penguin.com/meet/publishers/dialbooksforyoungreaders/

Dial Books for Young Readers is an imprint of Penguin Random House.  http://www.penguin.com/children/

Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Poetry Tagged: acceptance, Annette LeBox, Dial Books for Young Readers, family, friends, love, multicultural, peace, Peace is an Offering, Penguin Random House, relationships, Stephanie Graegin

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10. #658 – The Story Starts Here! by Caroline Merola

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The Story Starts Here!

Written and illustrated by Caroline Merola
Owlkids Books         9/15/2014
978-1-77147-079-7
40 pages      Age 4 to 8

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“Little Wolf wants to do things his way. And that includes starting HIS story from the back of the book. But Little Wolf’s topsy-turvy day gets a unexpected twist  when someone else decides to join in on the fun.

Play along as Little Wolf turns the picture book on its head!”

Review

Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you a very important thing—The Story Starts Here has the ending at the beginning and the beginning at the end.  So flip the book around and upside down, and then open the back “front” cover. Ready?

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Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

“Because I said so.”

He wants things his way, including with you; you are reading his book upside down and backwards. Little Wolf eats dessert first, puts his pants on his head, and plays piano with his toes. Little Wolf declares today is backward day to his unwilling and objecting parents.

“No, you will not begin with dessert.”
“No, you will not play piano with your toes!”

Sent to his room to think about his contrary behavior, Little Wolf sneaks outside (with his pants still fashionably atop his head). Outside, all the creatures are quickly running away from something. Little Wolf turns around and finds he is face-to-face with a monster. The Story Starts Here had me laughing from the get go at Little Wolf and his backward antics. Little Wolf playing the piano and wearing his trousers’ on his head is hilarious, but not as much as the twist. The monster is feeling a bit topsy-turvy itself. “It” explains this to Little Wolf, who seems to understand . . . until the monster tells Little Wolf to flip the book back over.

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Oh, wait! I forgot again. Keep the book open and flip back over so the beginning is the beginning and the end is the end. Now we can finish the story.

Despite the funny goings on the story could be better. Little Wolf is the same stubborn wolf as he was at page . . . the beginning of the story. He does not even think the twist is funny. (Spoilt sport, he is!)  I really like The Story Starts Here and the concept of an upside day. Feeling a little off is a good time to mix things up. Good thing dad understands his son.

I love “Dad Books.” The Story Starts Here will entertain fathers and sons, making a great reading experience for both. Little Wolf is generic and so can be any child; dad can be any father. Kids will love the craziness of flipping and reading backward, then suddenly flipping back. It is one more way to engage and interest them in reading. Kids will also love the surprise ending (a new fashion, which had me laughing, is born).  If the book does not make you dizzy—it will not—you and your child will enjoy a funny story and a great lead into a discussion on how sometimes a story—or the world—has more than one view.
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THE STORY STARTS HERE! Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Caroline Merola. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkely, CA.
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Purchase The Story Starts Here at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Books
Learn more about The Story Starts Here HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Caroline Merola, at her website:  http://www.carolinemerola.com/
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website:  https://store.owlkids.com
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
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Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: "my way", Caroline Merola, fathers and sons, Owlkids Books, stubborn, The Story Starts Here, tolerance, topsy-turpy, world view

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11. #657 – We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics Series: Science Gets It Wrong by Christine Zuchora-Walske

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We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics

Series:  Science Gets It Wrong
Written by Christine Zuchora-Walske
Lerner Publishing Group         9/1/2014
978-1-4677-3663-3
32 pages          Age 9 to 12
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“The universe circles around Earth.
Creatures live on the Sun.
You can tell the future by looking at the Stars.

At one time, science supported wild notions like these! But later studies proved these ideas were nonsense. Discover science’s biggest mistakes and oddest assumptions about physics and astronomy, and see how scientific thought changes over time.”

Review

Why is Pluto no longer a planet? What makes waves ebb and flow as they do? How did the universe begin? We’re the Center of the Universe will answer these questions and many more in this truly fascinating read. Even non-science buffs will find We’re the Center of the Universe interesting.

We’re the Center of the Universe packs a wild punch. Kids can learn about some of the greatest thinkers and scientists throughout history, and how their thoughts and postulates—once considered true—are now terribly off base. The physical sciences change with time. New information and tools improve research. New scientists bring new ideas. We’re the Center of the Universe will have kids laughing—and thinking—about the beliefs people once held, but as the author states,

“. . . in the future, people might think our scientific ideas are pretty goofy too!”

I loved the book and found it difficult to put down. Well-written and well-researched, kids will be drawn into to this primer on the misconceptions regarding our world and universe, specifically in the areas of physics and astronomy. The illustrations and photographs are fantastic and teachers can quickly incorporate We’re the Center of the Universe into the Common Core requirements.  

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Ms. Christine Zuchora-Walske knows how to write non-fiction for children. We’re the Center of the Universe is not a dry textbook, but rather a great adjunct text, a quick reference, and a fun read. In the resources section, she thoughtfully summarizes each book and website so readers can quickly find more information about whatever sparked their interest.

From ancient times to modern times, science continues to change and, sometimes, old ideas and thoughts are simply funny or just odd. Kids will find much to laugh about and learn inside the covers of We’re the Center of the Universe.
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WE’RE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! : SCIENCE’S BIGGEST MISTAKES ABOUT ASTRONOMY AND PHYSICS (SCIENCE GETS IT WRONG). Text copyright © 2014 by Christine Zuchora-Walske. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
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Learn more about We’re the Center of the Universe! HERE.
Purchase We’re the Center of the Universe! at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Publishing Group.

Meet the author, Christine Zuchora-Walske at her Lerner bio:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/contacts/987/Christine-Zuchora-Walske
View  Christine Zuchora-Walske’s linkedin page:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/christine-zuchora-walske/5/998/847
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SevenCsEditorial
Find more from the Science Gets it Wrong series at the Lerner Publishing website:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/

DON’T FORGET to VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Series Tagged: astronomy for kids, Christine Zuchora-Walske, Lerner Publishing Group, physics for kids, scientific misconceptions, We're the Center of the Universe!: Science's Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics (Science Gets It Wrong)

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12. Picture Book Roundup - new or coming soon!

This edition of the Picture Book Roundup features "jampires" (!), two Stanleys (one dog, one hamster), and a new Kadir Nelson book for which I can't find enough superlatives.  Enjoy!

If you can't see the slideshow, I've included my reviews below.

 

If You Plant a Seed is a brilliantly written and exquisitely illustrated book about kindness. Sparse but meaningful text, combined with joyfully detailed illustrations of plants, birds, and animals. I love it!


  • MacIntyre, Sarah and David O'Connell. 2015. Jampires. New York: David Fickling (Scholastic)

Who could be sucking all the jamminess out of the doughnuts?  Jampires!  Will Sam find jam?  Will the Jampires find their nest?  If you like funny, this is the best!


  • Bee, William. 2015. Stanley the Farmer. New York: Peachtree.

Stanley is a hardworking hamster. Illustrations and text  are bright and simple, making Stanley a perfect choice for very young listeners. Along the lines of Maisy, but with a crisper, cleaner interface.  Nice size, sturdy construction.



The Wimbledons can't sleep.  What IS all that noise?  It's only Stanley, the dog.  He's howling at the moon, fixing the oil tank, making catfish stew, ...?  Hey, something's fishy here! Classic Jon Agee - droll humor at its best.


Review copies of Jampires, Stanley the Farmer, and It's Only Stanley were provided by the publisher.

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13. Echo: A Novel - a review

If this is how the year is starting out, it's going to be a banner year for middle-grade books.  First, Gordon Korman's Masterminds (more on that fantastic new thriller another day) and now Echo: A Novel.

Ryan, Pam Muñoz. 2015. Echo: A Novel. New York: Scholastic.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of Echo from Scholastic and was intrigued that it was wrapped in musical notation paper and had a smartly-boxed Hohner Blues Band harmonica tied to it.


I was happy to see an apparently music-related book, and what somewhat surprised to find that Echo begins with a fairytale, "The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger," a fairytale replete with abandoned princesses, a magical forest, a mean-spirited witch, and a prophecy,

"Your fate is not yet sealed.  Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed."

Though brief, I became enthralled with the tale and was surprised and taken aback when I reached Part One and found myself not in the fairytale forest, but in

Trossingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 1933, home to the world's oldest harmonica manufacturer.  I couldn't wait to find out what became of the abandoned princesses, but soon found myself wrapped up in the story of young Friedrich Schmidt, a German Jew during Hitler's ascendance to power.  This kind-hearted, young boy of a musical family was surely destined to be gathered up in the anti-Semitic wave sweeping through Germany. I became engrossed in Friedrich's story, anxiously hoping that things would work out for him and his family, and was again surprised when I reached Part Two and found myself in

Philadelphia, 1935, home of the then-famous Albert Hoxie and the Philadelphia Harmonica Band, and of the Bishop's Home for Friendless and Destitute Children, where I found myself in the company of piano-playing orphans, Mike and Frankie Flannery.  Their story was no less heart-wrenching than Friedrich's, and I found myself desperately rooting for the young boys when I suddenly arrived

in a migrant worker's community in Southern California, 1942, where young Ivy Maria Lopez was about to play her harmonica on the Colgate Family Hour radio show, but her excitement was short-lived.  I fell in with this hard-working, American family and hoped, along with Ivy, for her brother's safe return from the war.

Of course, there's more, but this is where I will leave off.

Pam Muñoz Ryan has written a positively masterful story that will take the reader from the realm of magic through the historical travails of the infirm, the oppressed, and the poor in the midst of the 20th century.  Through it all, music gathers the stories together in a symphony of hope and possibility.  In music, and in Echo, there is a magic that will fill your soul.

It may only be February, but I predict that praise for Echo will continue throughout the year.


On a library shelf near you - February 24, 2015.

0 Comments on Echo: A Novel - a review as of 2/20/2015 6:35:00 AM
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14. Favorites of 2014

As the years go by, I get less and less comfortable choosing “best of” books at year’s end.  There’s no way that I can read all of the deserving books, and what I may find moving or amusing may not resonate with others.  However, with that being said, and in no particular order,

here are my personal favorites of 2014:


Juvenile Fiction
Young Adult Fiction
Adult Fiction
Juvenile Nonfiction
Picture Books
Audio Books
Graphic Novels

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15. 2014 Book Favorites

I didn’t get a chance to read everything on my leaning tower of TBR books this year, but here’s a list of some the books that I did enjoy. I would love to hear about your favorite books that you read on 2014.

Young Adult Fiction

2014YA
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Tyalor
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Adult Fiction

2014Fic
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Girls With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Memoir & Essays

2014MemEssays

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Writer Inspiration

2014Inspir

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor
Imagine This by Maxine Clair

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16. #663 – Can I Come Too? by Brian Patten & Nicola Bayley

Can I Come Too jacketx                  PEACHTREE PUBLISHERS BOOK BLOG TOUR
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Can I Come Too?

Written by Brian Patten
Illustrated by Nicola Bayley
Peachtree Publishers            10/01/2014
978-1-56145-796-0
Age 4 to 8            32 pages
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“One day, a tiny mouse goes in search of the biggest creature in the world. Along the way, she meets a menagerie of animals. Each towers over mouse, but which is the biggest of all? One by one, mouse’s new friends join her quest. After a long day of searching, they finally discover a creature as big as an island and bigger than a million mice! Join mouse on her journey as she assures young readers that they don’t have to be big to have a grand adventure.”

Opening

“A very small mouse decided she wanted to have a very big adventure.”

The Story

A little brown mouse decides to find the biggest creature in the world. She thinks this will make for a grand adventure. By the lake, Little Mouse finds Frog, who is bigger than she is. Little mouse asks the brown frog,

“Are you the biggest creature in the world?”

Frog said no, but he thinks Little Mouse is brave for trying to find the biggest creature in the world. He wants to come along. Together, Little Mouse and Frog continue searching for the biggest creature in the world. They come upon several creatures, including a bird, a cat, an otter, a badger, a dog, a goat, a tiger, and a polar bear. Little Mouse asks each the same question she had asked Frog, but none of these magnificent creatures is the biggest in the world.

Polar Bear believes the biggest creature in the world lives in the ocean. One-by-one, each of the creatures Little Mouse and Frog came upon—all of whom joined the adventure—follow the others along the river to where it empties into the ocean. There, swimming in the salty ocean water, is a creature as big as an island . . . and the biggest in the world.

Review

Can I Come Too? brings together ten animals of varying shapes, sizes, and sensibilities on a journey to find the biggest creature in the world. Little Mouse was, of course, the smallest, yet lead the group by the lake, along the river, through a small valley, a city zoo, and up a small mountainside before ending at the ocean. The animals are cordial despite differences in size and natural instincts. A few are humorous, adding a new layer to the story.

Can I Come Too interior-page-009

The cat is inclined to enjoy both the mouse and the bird, but chooses instead to join in the adventure, its curiosity getting the best of it. The tiger—with “paws as big as frying pans”—even promises not to eat anyone if only he could join the adventure. Like with Cat, Tiger is unanimously welcomed into the growing group. The Little Mouse looks to be no larger than one of Tiger’s front claws. In this spread, five other animals show their claws, all of which are larger than Little Mouse. The Kingfisher bird comfortably rests upon Tiger’s tail as if it sits here daily.

I love that none of these animals had to be afraid of another. The journey is more important to them than following a natural inclination to make a snack out of a smaller animal. One of the funniest parts, to me, is when the group comes upon the dog. Little Mouse asks the dog,

“Are you the biggest creature in the world?”
[Before Dog can answer} The cat said, “He’s the scruffiest creature, but certainly not the biggest.”

I could hear the sarcasm in the cat’s voice as it scrutinizes the dog. Then there is the animal that Little Mouse never approaches, yet decides the adventure is worth joining, so it follows the group out of the zoo. I think kids will enjoy meeting these creatures and deciding for themselves if the group has met the world’s biggest creature. They will also enjoy identifying each animal and comparing each to the next, always larger, animal to join the group.

Can I Come Too interior-page-008

The colored pencil on cartridge paper* illustrations realistically portray each animal and its surroundings. The brightest object is the Kingfisher bird with its bright blue feathers—with white dots on its head—and an orange belly. Rather than a more traditional green frog, the artist created a brown frog, but kids will easily recognize each creature. The most beautiful spread is, appropriately, the spread showcasing the biggest creature in the world. The magnificent yellow-orange sky on the right shines down upon the ocean and the name of the creature, making them stand out. All the animals in the adventure stand silhouetted on the bank, marveling at the creature they have found.

Young children and parents will both enjoy Can I Come Too? In addition to the gorgeous illustrations and the variety of animals, the mouse’s adventure sends a strong message that one does not need to be big, or bold, or brave to enjoy a magnificent adventure and gain new friends along the way. I like that the tiger and the cat choose the journey and its surprises against eating the smaller animals (as is their nature), showing kids that it is possible for anyone to become friends when they have the correct mindset. Can I Come Too is the perfect first adventure for young readers.

*cartridge art paper is a very heavy drawing paper (90 gsm to 128gsm), and sometimes toned, and used mainly in Britain and Australia.

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CAN I COME TOO? Text copyright © 2013 by Brian Patten. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Nicola Bayley. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.

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Purchase Can I Come Too? at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersyour favorite book store.

Learn more about Can I Come Too? HERE

Meet the author, Brian Patten, at his website:   www.brianpatten.co.uk

Meet the illustrator, Nicola Bayley, at her pinterest:   http://www.pinterest.com/bustersays/art-of-nicola-bayley/

Find wonderful picture books at the Peachtree Publishers website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

Can I Come Too? was first published in 2013 in Great Britain by Andersen Press.

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Also by Brian Patten

The Most Impossible Parents

The Most Impossible Parents

Thawing Frozen Frogs

Thawing Frozen Frogs

The Monsters' Guide to Choosing a Pet

The Monsters’ Guide to Choosing a Pet

The Big Snuggle-Up

The Big Snuggle-Up

 

 

 

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Also by Nicola Bayley

The Big Snuggle-Up

The Big Snuggle-Up

PARROT CAT

PARROT CAT

POLAR BEAR CAT

POLAR BEAR CAT

The Curious Cat

The Curious Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

can i come too

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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PEACHTREE PUBLISHERS BOOK BLOG TOUR

Can I Come Too?

Monday 10/6

Green Bean Teen Queen

Tuesday 10/7

Geo Librarian

Kid Lit Reviews

Wednesday 10/8

Chat with Vera

Thursday 10/9

Blue Owl

The Fourth Musketeer

Friday 10/10

Sally’s Bookshelf


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: adventures, Andersen Press, animals, Brian Patten, children's book reviews, friendships, Nicola Bayley, Peachtree Publishers, picture books

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17. #662 – Hatch, Little Egg by Édouard Manceau

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Hatch, Little Egg

Written & Illustrated by Édouard Manceau
Owlkids Books 9/15/2014
978-1-77147-077-3
Age 3 to 7 32 pages
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“The little bird is hatching! The little bird is hatching!

“Animals gather. Cameras Flash. The excitement builds. Is it happening? How much longer? Will the little bird live up to the crowd’s expectations? Get ready to find out! One . . . two . . . three . . . “

Opening

A reindeer, with a camera slung over his shoulder, rides his motorcycle. Where is he going? I have no idea. “Hey, Jack! Are you going to see the little bird hatch?”

Review

A flat tire has Jack stopped on the side of the road. Reindeer gives Jack a lift. As they travel, the road becomes congested with cars, bikes, and campers. Everyone is excited. Little bird will be hatching soon. With cameras in hand, the visitors walk toward the egg. Even a few bees have flown in for the occasion. I was hoping a couple of the bees would have a teeny-tiny camera. Actually, all the cameras are real, not an iPhone in sight. At the egg, a mouse raises her purse. She wears a black almost square hat and appears to be in charge of the gathering, or maybe she was just the first to arrive. The light-orange egg waits, sitting upright, unaware of the happenings around it.

“Ooooh! Here we go!”
“Hatch little egg!”
“Get ready! One, two, three . . . “

The egg cracks. The crowd’s excitement grows. Eyes widen in anticipation. The top of the egg pops off and the little bird is free. No one takes a picture. No one smiles. Everyone looks surprised, yet no one looks happy. Only the mouse has her arms stretch out as if to say, “Tada!” Someone else says,

“What on earth”

Everyone looks confused. Still, not one flash fills the area around the egg and it’s former tenant. He waves. Asks why no one wants to take his picture. No one moves. The mouse looks angry. One by one, the crowd disperses. They are disappointed, denied the show they came to see. The egg’s occupant is completely free and stands smiling as the crowds go home.  Why, what just happened? Something is wrong, or at least not right.

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The illustrations in Hatch, Little Bird are wonderful. They are very similar to The Race (reviewed here). Bright eyes fill every car and bike. The enthusiasm is palatable. The happy crowd contains the reindeer, Jack (owl), birds, bears, and bees, the mouse, and at least one rhino. Really, it’s a zoo. Kids will love these animals and will understand both, what they came to see and why they leave disappointed.

The humorous twist is totally unexpected. Actually, I had no idea why this egg hatching was so important, at least to the crowd. There will be kids who will want to know how what came out of the egg, got into the egg. It’s a very good question. Slowly, turn the page. Pretty funny, I thought. Kids will think it is funny, too. They may not get the crowd-mentality, or even care, but they will get the twist, or the joke, if you will.

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Kids will like Hatch, Little Bird and be able read it themselves after hearing the story once. They can go off and make up story after story about why they came, and what happened the day the egg hatched. Imaginations free to go wild or mild. This is one reason I like Mr. Manceau’s work. The other reason is the strange creatures he draws. Positioned against a white background, the creatures seem to pop off the page. Hatch, Little Bird is a goofy story with endless possibilities for your child’s imagination. A book they can read by themselves. Hatch, Little Bird, a French import, is a delightful picture book for young children. The multiple layers will tickle adults.

HATCH, LITTLE EGG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 Éditions Milan. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkeley, CA.
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Purchase Hatch, Little Bird at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Booksyour favorite local bookstore.
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Learn more about Hatch, Little Bird HERE
Meet the author/illustrator, Édouard Manceau, at his website:    http://edouardmanceau.blogspot.com/
Find more pictures books that delight at the Owlkids Books website:    http://www.owlkids.com/

Translated by Karen Li

Éditions Milan originally published Hatch, Little Bird in 2013, in France.
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Also by Édouard Manceau

Clic Clac

Clic Clac

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

My Little Library

My Little Library

The Race

The Race

 

 

Reviewed HERE
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 LOOK!  coming in 2015

LOOK! coming in 2015

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Éditions Milan, Édouard Manceau, children's book reviews, egg hatching, Hatch, Karen Li, Little Egg, Owlkids Books, picture book, young children

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18. #661 – Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

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Pig and Small

Written & Illustrated by Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers                9/01/2104
978-1-56145-797-7
Age 4 to 8            32 pages
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“Pig and Bug just want to be friends, but their size differences are proving to be a BIG problem. Pig wants to play games—but Bug is too small to keep up. Bug wants to make things for his friend—but Pig is too big to appreciate the craftsmanship! Just as they’ve given up all hope for a friendship, Pig has an idea. Will it work? (Yes, it will.)”

Opening

“Before this morning, Pig’s nose had never squeaked—not even once.”

Review

Poor Pig. His nose squeaked so much he even looked it up in a medical book. Squeaky Nose Syndrome is right after Squeaky Mouth Syndrome and before Squeaky Pants Syndrome. Wait, it isn’t there. There is no Squeaky Nose Syndrome. Pig examines his nose himself and finds the problem, which is not a problem at all, but a tiny bug. Bug is waving his arms—all four of them—trying to get Pig’s attention. Bug wants to be friends.

“Hello,” said Pig.
“Squeak, squeak,” replied Bug.

Pig and Bug start doing things together, but their friendship has problems from the start. What Pig likes to do—play board games, ride bikes, catch—was difficult and sometimes a wee bit dangerous for Bug, and what Bug likes to do—make things for Pig, Hide-N-Seek—was too small or too hard for Pig. They decide to part ways.

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I really like the illustrations by Alex Latimer. He also wrote and illustrated Lion vs. Rabbit (reviewed here), The Boy Who Cried Ninja (reviewed here), and Penguin’s Hidden Talent (sadly, not reviewed here). I love the simple lines and colorful characters that always shine with emotions. He also adds small details that I love and often find amusing. Latimer’s picture books use humor and situations to teach young children without seeming to send a message. In Pig and Small, size makes a difference for BIG Pig and small Bug, so they decide not to be friends. However, this is not the end of Pig and Small.

Pig turns to leave, after he and Bug decided to go their own ways, and the wind, blowing mighty hard, whips a newspaper at Pig, sticking it to his face. Open to the movie section—The Pirate, the Ninja, and the Invisible Dog—Pig realizes there are many things he and Bug can both enjoy. They go see the movie and have a great time. Bug . . . nah, I’ll leave the details between the pages. Do not miss the BIG finale.

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BIG Pig and small Bug decide size does not matter. There are many things the two interesting friends can do together that both enjoy. They enjoyed the movie and talk about it on the way home. There are museums, zoos, plays, and aquariums awaiting them. Size does not matter in friendships. Differences melt away between friends and they find ways to enjoy their time together.

Once again, Latimer’s soft, easy tones guide us to a new understanding of what friendship is about, or rather what it is not about—size. With kids back in school and the holidays approaching (much too fast), children have the opportunity to make many new friends. After reading Pig and Small, they will understand that size does not matter in friendship, or do friends need to have identical likes to get along and be friends. Friendship, as in life, is a compromise and differences should not matter . . . at least not to friends like Pig and Bug.

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PIG AND SMALL. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alex Latimer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.
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Pick up Pig and Small at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersyour favorite local bookstore.
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Learn more about Pig and Small HERE

WIN PIG AND SMALL from Peachtree Publishers HERE

Meet the author and illustrator, Alex Latimer, at his website:   http://www.alexlatimer.co.za/

Check out what he has to say at his blog:   http://alexlatimer.blogspot.com/

Tweet him at his Twitter:   https://twitter.com/almaxla

Find excellent picture books at the Peachtree Publisher’s website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

Peachtree has a blog with occasional giveaways here:   http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/

Also by Alex Latimer

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Penguin's Hidden Talent

Penguin’s Hidden Talent

 Lion vs Rabbit

Lion vs Rabbit

Just So Stories

Just So Stories

The Space Race

The Space Race

 The South-African Alphabet  

The South-African Alphabet

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pig and small
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Picture Book Tagged: acceptance, Alex Latimer, children's book reviews, differences in people, friendships, Peachtree Publishers, picture books, Pig and Small, respect, size doesn't matter

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19. #644 – The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos by C.L. Murphy

Lobo cover

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The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

Written and illustrated by C.L. Murphy
Published by C.L. Murphy         8/22/2014
978-0-9883187-5-5
Age 4 to 8        32 pages
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“Lobo returns in this adventure, sweeter and a bit salty this time. This lil’ wolf pup finds that there’s nothing like a little sea air to bring out the best in him and his unlikely tag-alongs. Take a trip to the Galapagos with Lobo and his right-hand raven, Roxy, as they help an injured, new feathered friend return home. Lobo faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from helping others in this “birds of a different feather DO flock together” tale.”

Opening

 “Ohh …….Rooooxxxyyyy . . . Roxy…..Roxy?”

The Story

After a stormy night, Lobo finds a bird lying upside down in the grass. It has blue feet, which worries Lobo, but it turns out the bird, named Bobby is a blue-footed booby. The storm blew Bobby all the way to Lobo’s home, hurting his wing in the process. Lobo’s friend Roxy the raven splints Bobby’s wing and then the two take Bobby home. He lives by the ocean, but none of the beaches Lobo arrives at is the correct beach. Bobby lives on Wolf Island—wolf population zero—an island of the Galapagos Islands. The islands are across the ocean rom Lobo’s forest. Lobo does not swim well and is afraid a sea creature might attack the group—or him. What does he do know? How will he get the injured Booby back home?

Review 

I have loved The Adventures of Lovable Lobo ever since Lobo ventured into a barnyard full of animals trying to make friends. He was a cool wolf pup when he refused to hunt and kill in his first adventure. Lobo was wonderful with a young Bigfoot. In Lobo Goes to Galapagos, Lobo must be maturing. He takes the lead, transporting an injured boobly bird, a depressed seagull, and a lonely crab by himself. Roxy helps by flying most of the time instead of landing on Lobo’s back for a free ride. Lobo never complains. These are his friends (even the sad seagull and the blue-footed boobly both of which he just met) so he steps out.

I loved the unexpected bits of humor, such as when Sandra popping onto the beach with the perfect timing of a great comedian One f the best lines is this one,

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“The water was so clear that if Lobo looked down he could see many things swimming around,   so he tried not to look down.”

Poor Lobo, he endures one fear to take a new friend, injured in the storm, home. The nice thing about Lobo’s stories is the lack of a message. Lobo is a good wolf, a wolf to aspire to be, and a friend to every animal without prejudice. This is Lobo’s makeup, not his message. Still, I take friendship, honesty, loyalty, and courteousness away from Lobo’s adventures.

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I was disappointed that Lobo Goes to the Galapagos was only to drop off a new friend. I thought he would go there to explore and show me creatures I did not know existed. True, I had never heard of a blue-footed boobly—and yes, it is real—but I wanted more.

The illustrations are once more fantastic. My favorite and one that Ms. Murphy will find hard to top, is her gorgeous sunset, sunrise beaches. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have seen many outstanding sunsets and rises, but none were as magnificent as the ones in Lobo Goes to the Galapagos. Ms. Murphy the magic touch. All of her illustrations are bold, bright, beautiful renditions of her stories. If the images are not hopping off the page at you, they bathe you in phenomenal patterns of color. She is a fantastic artist.

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Lobo’s latest adventure, Lobo Goes to the Galapagos, will not disappoint his loyal fans. Young children new to the lovable wolf pup will enjoy the story’s soft humor and awesome tale of friendship. As of this tale, Kindle readers can finally enjoy Lovable Lobo. Once again, Lobo and his friends captivated me. I hope one day, Lobo will make a longer trip to the Galapagos Islands. He would make the perfect ambassador.

THE ADVENTURES OF LOVABLE LOBO #5: LOBO GOES TO THE GALAPAGOS. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by C.L. Murphy. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, C.L. Murphy.

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Purchase Lobo Goes to the Galapagos at AmazoniTunes—Ms. Murphy’s Website.

Learn more about Lobo Goes to the Galapagos HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, C.L. Murphy, at her website:     http://lovablelobo.com/

Pop in on the author at her Twitter, Facebook, or Blog.

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Also by C.L. Murphy

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1:  Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1: Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2:  Lobo Visits the Barnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2: Lobo Visits the Barnyard


The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3:  Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3: Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4:  Lobo's Howliday

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4: Lobo’s Howliday

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Review of Lobo #1

Review of Lobo #2

Review of Lobo #3

Review of Lobo #4

 

 

lobo galapagos
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: Blue-Footed Boobly, C.L. Murphy, children's book series, childrens book review, friendship, Galapagos Islands, helping friends, Lovable Lobo, loyalty, picture book, wild creatures

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20. #645 – Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Flora and the Penguin                    2014

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Flora and the Penguin

Written and illustrated by Molly Idle
Published by Chronicle Books 2014
978-1-4521-2891-7
Age 4 to 8 (+) 32 pages
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“Flora is back and this time she partners with a penguin. Twirling, leaping, and gliding on skates and flippers, the duo mirror each other in an exuberant ice dance. But when Flora gives the penguin the cold shoulder, the pair must figure out a way to work together for uplifting results.”

Opening

As Flora ties her right skate, she notices something poke out of a hole in the ice. What could it be?

Review

Flora is back at the ice rink, getting ready to glide and twirl when she sees something odd in the hole across from where she sits lacing her skate. Flora extends her hand, offering it to Penguin. He accepts (I am assuming Penguin is a he, I really do not know). Flipper in hand, the pair glide in perfect harmony. Left foot glide to the right; turn and right foot glide to the left. In absolute harmony, Flora and Penguin take off and then LEAP into a perfect twirl.

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Oh, NO! Penguin misses his landing, falling onto his rotund rear. Flora glides away . . . laughing. Penguin belly slides to her with a twinkle in his eye. This is not Flora and the Flamingo. The grace and style are present. The harmonious duet is there. The serious business of skating is not. Penguin brings the smiles and laughs out of Flora. He also spoils his partner, or, rather, he tries. Flora rejects Penguin’s gift. Sure, it is a small fish he has brought her; a snack Penguin chased below the ice—in synchronicity with Flora’s skating. Flora flips the fish over her head. Penguin looks mortified as his gift somehow lands into the hole in the ice and swims away.

The beautiful illustrations once again capture the elegant characters gliding, twirling, and leaping. At quick glance, one might believe this is the Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Flamingo, only with a penguin. That person would be wrong, terribly wrong. In Flora and the Flamingo, Flora is the student learning from Flamingo, the teacher. In Flora and the Penguin, Flora is no longer the student, nor is she the teacher. She and Penguin are friends skating together and having fun. When Penguin misses his landing, no one turns away in admonition. No, Flora happily laughs and Penguin giggles as they join back together. These two are playmates.

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Playmates have fights, as you are sure to remember. Flora turns away in a pout, checking on Penguin when he looks away. Penguin is also pouting in anger and keeping an eye on Flora. These two friends need to find their way back and Ms. Idle does this in grand style. A four-page grand spread. Flora and the Penguin is a gorgeous, wordless picture book that will wow anyone lucky enough to turn the pages. Some pages contain flip-up, -down, or –sideways, always changing the scene and promoting a smile.

Flora and the Penguin is an easy choice for anyone who loves ballet. Yet this gorgeous, should-win-lots-of-awards picture book will attract a wider audience. Like her throngs of admirers, I cannot wait for her next release, though I am secretly hoping for new characters in a new story. Whatever direction she takes, parents and young children will love the finished product. Ms. Idle has perfected the art of wordless storytelling.

FLORA AND THE PENGUIN. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Molly Idle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Buy Flora and the Penguin at AmazoniTunesB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Flora and the Penguin HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, Molly Idle, at her website:  http://idleillustration.com/

Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books’ website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Molly Idle

Camp Rex

Camp Rex

Tea Rex

Tea Rex

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flora and the penguin

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: ballet, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Flora and the Penguin, gorgeous illustrations, ice skating, Molly Idle, penguins, picture books, wordless stories

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21. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

guardian herd 1 starfire

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The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
978-0-06-228606-2
Age 8 to 12              272 pages
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“Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”

Opening

“Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

The Story

The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.

Review

The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

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Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

**Also Available in Audio

Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE

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Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

The Pet Washer

The Pet Washer

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Reviewed HERE

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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22. #654 – Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt

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Rhyme Schemer

Written by K. A. Holttop-10-use-eb-trans
Chronicle Books 10/01/2014
978-1-4521-2700-2
Age 8 to 12 176 pages
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“Kevin has a bad attitude. He’s the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way—and he’s even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on?”

Opening

“First day of school.
My favorite.
Easy prey.

Giant John.
A parade float of himself.

The Story

Kevin, the class bully, is in seventh grade. He loves picking on certain kids. His teacher, Mrs. Smithson, does not like him, but does like to send Kevin to the principal’s office. She also turns a very blind eye when Kevin is no longer the bully, but the bullied. At home, Kevin is the accident baby with four “P” brothers: Patrick, Paul, Petey, and Philip. Mom and dad are both busy physicians with little time for home or Kevin.

Kevin keeps a notebook of his days at school, writing them in verse. Petey, in charge of driving Kevin to school, is a bully himself. When he notices Kevin’s notebook, Petey makes terrible fun of Kevin and then chucks the notebook out the car window. Kevin searches but cannot find it. Robin, who fits perfectly between the boy’s bathroom sink pipes, finds the notebook. It becomes blackmail. Robin wants to be the Poetry Bandit. Robin is a little jerk.

Mrs. Little, the librarian, knows it is Kevin tearing out pages from classics, circling and adding a letter or two, creating a unique poem, and then posting it at school for all to see. Mrs. Little soon takes to Kevin. She encourages Kevin to stop defacing school property and use paper other than pages from children’s classics for his unique poetry. As long as Robin has Kevin’s private notebook, sharing it at random, Kevin is nervous. There are a few bombs in the notebook that Kevin does not want exploding at school.

Review

Written in verse, Rhyme Schemer is a fast read. It is also an extremely enjoyable read that kept me laughing, sometimes loudly. Kevin is not a bad kid. His home life looks ideal to others, but reality is another matter. His parents are rarely home and brother Petey—who hates Kevin—is especially mean whenever possible. Bullies beget bullies. Kevin enjoys picking on his classmates. He meets with the principal much too often.

Kevin is not the classic bully who is mean and full of hate that spews out at other kids. Kevin is frustrated and trying to get his parent’s attention. His home life is mostly unfair and soon school will become unfair. The teacher ignores Robin’s attacks at Kevin, whether it is passing mean notes during class or ignoring a physical confrontation—where Kevin does not retaliate. She really does not like Kevin and then favors Robin, mainly because his father holds an important position.

I really like Kevin. He is a character you can easily favor, wanting him to catch a break. He’s a likable kid. Kevin pays a big price for defending Kelly, but he gains a friend, his first. I understand Kevin. He is the baby in a large family, but instead of being spoiled, he is picked on, sometimes harshly for no real reason. In a house full of people, Kevin is alone. What must it be like to have four brothers, all wanted, and with planned-out names beginning with a “P” (I wish I knew why), but he is the accident with a name beginning with the wrong letter. This alone must make him feel alienated from his family. Kevin deals with school unfairness and home by becoming a feeling-less, like stone.

Kids will like Rhyme Schemer. They will like Kevin. Kids will see a bully from a new perspective. The text is funny in so many places, and even sad in a few. Ms. Holt’s writing style is enjoyable and kid like. Kevin is the narrator, but I wonder if he is also the author and Ms. Holt his conduit. Kevin wrote several Odes to his principal’s tie. Some are in the story and some are at the end of the book. Don’t pass these by.

“[Clearing throat noise here.]
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O, Principal’s tie
You make me want to puke
Because you are the color of
Squishy, moldy fruit”

Reluctant readers will also find Rhyme Schemer easy to read. At the end, I was not ready to stop reading. I wanted more. There are no unanswered questions, no threads laying in wait for a resolution; I simply want to read more of Kevin’s poetry. Rhyme Schemer is one of those rare books that stay with you, long after the last page flips over. I hope to read Kevin’s eighth grade notebook.

RHYME SCHEMER. Text copyright © 214 by K. A. Holt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Read a excerpt of Rhyme Schemer HERE (no cost)

Buy Rhyme Schemer at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.
Learn more about Rhyme Schemer HERE
Meet the author, K. A. Holt, at her website:   http://kaholt.com/books/
Find more middle grade books at the Chronicle Books website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

Also by K. A. Holt

Brains for Lunch

Brains for Lunch

Mike Steller Nerves of Steel

Mike Steller Nerves of Steel

 

 

 

Coming Fall 2015 – House Arrest – Chronicle Books

 

 

rhymer schemer

Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

I really like the author information on the back inside book jacket.
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K. A. Holt is a writer
a mama
a bad (but fearless) cook.

She has written three
(three!)
books for kids.

Also?

She shelved books
in the library
during grade school.

Ms. Holt claims
(claims!)
she never had a detention.

Believe what you want.”


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Poetry, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: absent parents, bullied, bullier, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, K.A. Holt, middle grade novel, poems, poetry, seventh grade

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23. #655 – Stanley’s Garage by William Bee

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Stanley’s Garage

by William Bee
Peachtree Publishing      9/01/2014
978-1-5614-804-2
Age 3 to 8         32 pages
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“Stanley is working at his garage today. From filling up Hattie’s red sports car with gas to changing the tire on Shamus and Little Woo’s blue car, it sure is a busy day. As his friends each come in with their car problems, Stanley knows just what to do to get them back on the road.”

Opening

“This is Stanley’s Garage. Who will drive in today?”

The Story

Stanley the hamster owns a garage and a green tow truck. He spends the day helping his friends. Hattie needs gas in her car, and, like the days of old, Stanley pumps the gas for her. I love her red sports car. Shamu’s car has a flat tire. While Shamu and Little Woo’s car has a flat tire, Charlie’s car is overheated, and Myrtle, in her purple car, needs towed back to Stanley’s garage. All day Stanley fixes auto problems. It’s a lot of work for one day. Stanley, smudged in black oil spots, walks home. He takes a bath, eats his supper, and heads to bed ready for tomorrow. What job will Stanley take on tomorrow? Will he be a chef at his own diner, or maybe the farmer that grows the food?

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Review

Young boys will love the Stanley’s Garage. Stanley does a variety of jobs, all to help his friends. Young boys, and some girls, will enjoy Stanley in his new business. In his garage, Stanley works alone, unlike as a builder with Charlie. The illustrations are basic with large, easy to recognize shapes, separated by solid black lines, which help deepen the colors and drawing one’s attention. The colors are basic primary and secondary colors. Kids should be able to recognize each color, and he basic shapes that compose the items in Stanley’s world, if asked.

I love this clean presentation. The white background helps keep the eyes focused on the illustrations. I like watching Stanley helping his friends and I really wish, like Stanley, garages with gas pumps still pumped the gas for customers. What else has changed that kids might recognize? The text is simple with a few complex words related to automobiles. These words are: radiator, overheating, jacks, tow (no, not toe), and oily. Boys and girls will have a new vocabulary to use when playing with their toy cars.

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Young children will enjoy learning about the jobs Stanley takes on in this series. Along with building a house and running a garage, Stanley will be a chef in his own cafe, and grow food as a farmer. What other jobs Stanley might take on in the future is anyone’s guess. After reading Stanley’s Garage, young children will wonder why mom and dad pump their own gas. Stanley’s Garage can help prepare for kindergarten, as they learn the colors, shapes, and new words in each story.

The Stanley books are also a great choice for story-time. The illustrations, thanks to those black lines, are easy to see from a short distance. Stanley has more adventures on the way. Young children will eagerly await each new addition. Next, Stanley runs a cafe and then becomes a farmer.

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STANLEY’S GARAGE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by William Bee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishing.

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Purchase Stanley’s Garage at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtreeyour favorite bookstore.

Stanley’s Collection

cover farmer

stanleys cafe

cover

cover

 

 

Review is HERE

 

Learn more about Stanley and his series HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, William Bee, at his website:   http://www.williambee.com/

Check out William Bee’s fantastic blog:  http://williambee.blogspot.com/

Find all of the Stanley series at the Peachtree Publishing website:    http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/

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Also by William Bee

Beware of the Frog

Beware of the Frog

Whatever

Whatever

And the Train Goes...

And the Train Goes…

And the Cars Go...

And the Cars Go…

Digger Dog - NEW

Digger Dog – NEW

 

 

 

 

 

Migloo’s Day – March 24, 2015

 

stanley's garage

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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Peachtree Publishing Book Blog Tour

Stanley’s Garage

Monday 9/8
Green Bean Teen Queen
Tuesday 9/9
Jean Little Library
Geo Librarian
Kid Lit Reviews
Wednesday 9/10
Chat with Vera
Thursday 9/11
Blue Owl


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: automobiles, children's book reviews, jobs, Peachtree Publishers, picture books, Stanley the Builder, Stanley the Farmer, Stanley's Cafe, Stanley's Garage, William Bee

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24. #656 – Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Flashlight_FC_LoResx
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Flashlight

Written and illustrated by Lizi Boydtop-10-use-eb-trans (1)
Chronicle Books           8/01/2014
978-1-4521-1894-9
Age 2 to 6        32 pages
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“Inside the tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.”

Opening

The young girl, let’s call her Amy, is outside with her flashlight, shining it on the ground. Look! she has found a mouse, no three mice, going about their nighttime activities. Looking up with her flashlight beam, Amy finds an owl, which looks a little spooked that Amy found it in its tree.

Flashlight Product Shot 1

Review

Flashlight is an amazing picture book. Without words, “Amy” has a nighttime adventure of a lifetime. With her flashlight, Amy finds all sorts of animals, but misses just as many who are in the dark. She spies an owl in a tree, a couple of fish in a pond, a fox, and doe with her two babies. If this is not the best adventure for a young child, I cannot think of what could be better. The artist strategically added a hole placed in each spread that focuses upon something the young girl does not see in the dark, but the reader now can. I like that little change that holds more surprises for the reader.

Oops! Amy tripped on stone, tossing the flashlight onto the ground. A raccoon has the flashlight and is lighting up Amy’s face. It passes the flashlight to a beaver, which lights up Amy’s backside. The animals continue to pass off the flashlight until the owl takes possession, pointing the light onto the opening of Amy’s tent. I believe the owl, as wise as it is, thinks Amy should be in bed. Amy tucks in then reads a story to the three mice. I wonder what the story she is reading those three mice.

Flashlight Product Shot 2

Flashlight is an amazing nighttime adventure right in the young girl’s backyard or park, there is no way to be sure. She enjoys finding the animals as well as young children will enjoy finding them. I enjoyed it. There are so many stories kids can imagine with each animal and what they are doing at might. Why does the wise owl want Amy to stop flashing its friends and go to sleep inside the tent? Is he worried about her sleep, or does he want her to stop interfering with the animals nighttime routines?

Children and parents will love this picture book adventure, as do I. Read as a bedtime story, Flashlight can about the young girl or the animals. Parents and their child will enjoy discovering the different animals. How wonderful that could be. The illustrations are all on black paper, with silver-lined animals (in the dark) and colorful animals as the flashlight shines upon them. Flashlight is a magnificent picture book and one of the most original I have seen this year.

Flashlight Product Shot 3

Flashlight is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2014.

FLASHLIGHT. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lizi Boyd. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Three Questions with Lizi Boyd

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Purchase Flashlight at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Flashlight HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Lizi Boyd, at her website:  http://liziboyd.com/ 
Find more magnificent books at the Chronicle Books’ website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Lizi Boyd

Inside Outside

Inside Outside

Black Dog Gets Dresssed

Black Dog Gets Dresssed

I Love Mommy

I Love Mommy

I Love Daddy

I Love Daddy

 

 

 

flashlight

Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: backkyard camp-out, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, illustrations only, Lizi Boyd, nature, picture books

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25. #658 – You Are (Not) Small by Anna King & Christopher Weyant

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You Are (Not) Small

Written by Anna Kangtop-10-use-eb-trans
Illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Two Lions             8/05/2014
978-1-47784772-5
Age 4 to 8           32 pages
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“Two fuzzy creatures can’t agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all! Size all depends on who’s standing next to you.”

Opening

“You are small.”

Review

Two funny, hairy purple and orange creatures square off and let the other know about their size:  big or small. The orange creature tells the purple creature that he is small. The purple creature responds that he is not small, but the orange creature is big. Orange denies being big, despite towering over the purple, who denies being small, despite barely coming up the orange creature’s waist. STOP! What is going on with these two? Don’t they see the obvious?

Nope, they sure do not. The big guy denies he is big, bringing in others just like him to prove his point.

You Are Not Small int spread 3

 “They are just like me.”

Huh? The little creature brings in others just like him and he, too makes the same point. This argument is not logical, but young kids will not care. Honestly, in my first read-through, which is always for fun, I didn’t give much to the faulty logic either. I doubt I even noticed it—laughing excessively, wiping tears from my sparkling eyes, and holding my laugh-cramped stomach. Then the interaction gets a tad intense. Voices get louder.

“You are all small!’
“You are all big!”
“Small!”
“Big!”

Each of the supporting groups has interesting reactions. At first, the purple creatures look on, one wide-eyed (love it), but the orange creature’s are less interested. One even rolls his eyes (love it, more). Ratchet up the tension and voices. Everyone is now involved. This plot, the characters, the twist at the end all make for a charming book no young child should be without.

Five colors and a white background make perfect illustrations for this story. The black outlining brings character and emotions to these hairy big and small creatures. Their rotund figures remind me of polar bears. I love the small dot eyes. The comical noses on these creatures are huge and terrific. Add in the mitten-like hands and these creatures are all thumbs and harmless. Oversized text compliments these terrific illustrations, which children and their parents will love—enough to read many successive times.

 “BOOM”

Whoa! What was that? Two huge feet— each foot half a page in width—and two legs, cut off before the knee, slam down in the middle of the lively argument. The green, hairy creature is humongous! Tiny pink creatures find their way down by way of yellow parachutes. Purple and orange creatures look up with varying interest; including a wide-eyed, purple creature and a glasses wearing orange creature with a content smile (love the small details). Many of the creatures on both sides are smiling. Combatant purple looks to his orange sparring partner, points to one pink creatures and says,

“See? I am not small.”

Misunderstood orange, wearing a big smile, points to the green creature that dropped in only moments before, and says,

“See? I am not big.”

Notice, there are no exclamation points in either statement. The two creatures have come to a conclusion. Both sides smile, one declares something, and off everyone goes, happy as if no argument ever occurred. Lesson: your size is relative to whom you are standing near. You can be both small and big!

You Are Not Small int spread 1

You Are (Not) Small has one of the funniest twists/lead-ins to a next book I have read in a while. Aside from the back matter telling us the author/illustrator team of Kang and Weyant are working on a sequel, the final spread gives it away. Kids will grab up the sequel as fast as the books hit the shelves. Pre-order the sequel now, well, if you could, but you cannot. What a shame.

Kids will howl at the twist, never having seen it coming until it hits. All readers, young and old, big and small, will adore this crazy book about size’s relative nature, be it of girth or problem. There is always going to be one bigger and smaller than yours.

Go get You Are (Not) Small right now. Read it every night—you will do this voluntarily. Read it to the kids, if you want. They will love it as much as you will. Laugh every day. Cry every day (from laughing). Then, when the new book is announced, pre-order as fast as your small, uh, big, uh . . . just do it. Wonderful debut from this husband / wife team.  Up next: That is (Not) Mine  2015

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, New York, NY.
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Buy You Are (Not) Small at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryTwo Lionsyour favorite bookstore.
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Learn more about You Are (Not) Small HERE.
Meet the author, Anna Kang, at her facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/YouAreNotSmall
Meet the illustrator, Christopher Weyant, at his website:   http://christopherweyant.com/
Find more picture books to laugh at the Two Lions’ website:   http://www.apub.com/imprints

Two Lions is an imprint of Amazon Children’s Publishing

An interview with Anna Kang 

Art: India ink and watercolor
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Also by Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant
That is (Not) Mine  2015
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you are not small
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: Amazon Children's Publishing, Anna Kang, children's book reviews, Christopher Weyant, debut author, picture book, Two Lions

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