What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'houghton mifflin harcourt')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: houghton mifflin harcourt, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 186
1. Swallow the Leader

Swallow the Leader. Danna Smith. Illustrated by Kevin Sherry. 2016. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: 1 Fish 2 Fish Follow the leader. Do as I do. Splash when I'm splashing, then I'll follow you.

Premise/plot: Swallow the Leader is an ocean-themed counting book. The fish in the ocean are playing follow the leader. Perhaps because the fish are busy playing together, they are less aware of their surroundings than they should be. But all ends well in this one--for better or worse.

My thoughts: I haven't decided if I like the ending or not. Is that cruel of me? I like this one okay. But I'm not sure I love it.

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Swallow the Leader as of 9/1/2016 12:08:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. The Hole Story of the Doughnut

The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Pat Miller. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2016. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Few remember the master mariner Hanson Crockett Gregory, though he was bold and brave and bright. But the pastry he invented more than 166 years ago is eaten daily by doughnut lovers everywhere. This is his story.

Premise/plot: Readers learn the true story behind the creation of the doughnut. Also how that story got embellished through the years into something more of a legend.

My thoughts: I liked it. I really did. I can't say that I loved, loved, LOVED it. But it was lively, engaging, entertaining, not particularly moralistic or educational. I don't remember picture book biographies being this entertaining when I was a child. So it's easy to recommend.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Hole Story of the Doughnut as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still. Karlin Gray. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. 2016. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: A picture book biography of Nadia Comaneci.

My thoughts:  First, I just want to say that I want--no, I NEED--more picture books about gymnastics. Or early readers. Or chapter books. Or, you know, novels. And while I'm at it, I'll put in a request for books about ice skating. A picture book about the 1996 U.S. Gymnastics team would be GREAT fun I think!

Second, I just have to say that I really enjoyed this picture book biography of Nadia Comaneci! It is a very age-appropriate biography I must say. It is set in Romania in the 1960s and 1970s. (But the focus is never on politics or hardships or possible reasons why she might have defected from her country.) Readers meet a young Nadia and her coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi. She began doing gymnastics at the age of 6. Over half the book focuses on the 1976 Olympic Games. The book ends with her returning home after winning at the Olympics. She was 14 years old, I believe. I want to say that these days you have to be at least sixteen in order to compete at the Olympics. A timeline will catch adults up on her life story.

One thing I did appreciate was the source notes provided at the end of the book. So often picture book biographies fail to show their research.

This one is easy to recommend.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Cyrano

Cyrano. Geraldine McCaughrean. 2006. HMH. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The curtain goes up. Silence falls. A painted moon wavers on a painted backdrop. The audience shivers with delight. For what could be better than an evening at a Paris theatre? Who more famous than the evening's glittering star? Enter the magnificent Montfleury, stage right!

Premise/plot: A prose adaptation--for teens--of the French play Cyrano de Bergerac written by British author Geraldine McCaughrean. Now, I do love the play. And I'd probably recommend the play over this adaptation--at least for adults. Especially since I believe it is now out of print. It is sad, right, that by the time I got to this review copy it was already out of print?!

Here's the basic story for those who don't know it: Cyrano is in love with his cousin, Roxane. He finds her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Roxane is in love with a young soldier (cadet) named Christian. She thinks he is the most handsome man in the world. Christian loves Roxane, but, he lacks the skill to woo her the way she wants to be wooed. She's not interested so much in his kisses as his passionate words of longing. Cyrano who is just as skilled in wordplay as in swordplay steps in to help where he can. He'll give Christian the words to speak to win her heart. When both men go off to war it is Cyrano who risks his life--twice daily--to send letters to her so she won't worry that Christian has been killed. Those letters bring her great joy and drive her mad with wanting him....so much so that she goes into a war zone to find her man. When the two meet she declares, IT IS YOUR SOUL I LOVE, YOU COULD BE THE UGLIEST MAN ALIVE AND I WOULD LOVE YOU STILL, PERHAPS EVEN MORE. Now Christian begs her, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LOVE ME BECAUSE I'M BEAUTIFUL AND HANDSOME AND SWOON-WORTHY. THAT'S THE WAY I WANT TO BE WANTED. She's confused. But reader's aren't. Christian knows that it is Cyrano whom she truly loves because Cyrano is "his soul." What's to be done?!?!

My thoughts: For readers who are really intimidated by reading plays, then this one is worth seeking out. I do think it serves as a good first introduction to the story. I would hope that readers would grow into the original and seek to experience the story again and again.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Cyrano as of 7/17/2016 5:39:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. The Journey That Saved Curious George

The Journey That Saved Curious George. Louise Borden. 2016. HMH. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: For many years, I was intrigued by the story of Margret and H.A. Rey's flight from Paris on bicycles in June 1940.

Premise/plot: This children's nonfiction book is just right for elementary readers. It begins by providing background and context for young readers. Hans Augusto Reyersbach and Margarete Waldstein grew up in Germany. Both were Jewish. At some point in the 1920s, he moves to Rio de Janeiro. She follows a little while after. They meet again there, and fall in love. Paris is one of the stops on their honeymoon--they are Brazilian citizens now--and Paris is where they decide to remain. They work many happy years together in Paris. But their work--and their lives--are threatened when World War II goes from being something you read about in the papers--to something happening a few miles outside the city limits.

As Jews, they are at great risk if they remain in Paris and Paris is captured by the Nazis. But. For better or worse. They waited a little too long to leave the city...in an easy way. The last rush sees them desperate to find two bicycles. I believe the book says he had to build the bicycles himself from parts. But it isn't just a story about saving the authors' lives, it's a book celebrating the manuscript that would become Curious George. That was one of the possessions that they took with them--on their bikes. Of course what you may not know is that "George" wasn't George just yet. The monkey was originally called Fifi. And publishers had already agreed to publish the book before they made their flight...

The book focuses on H.A. and Margret Rey, their work as writers, and how the war effected their lives.

My thoughts: This is a very enjoyable read. I loved how the author was able to reconstruct their lives and give readers a behind-the-scenes look into the writing and illustrating of books. The book felt personal, but, always appropriate.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Journey That Saved Curious George as of 7/29/2016 11:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger. Anita Silvey. 2016. HMH. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pete Seeger became the most important folk singer of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But he might have chosen a very different path. Although his grandfather made a fortune from sugar refining in Mexico, Pete became an advocate for underpaid workers. Though he came from financial privilege, he identified with those who had to make a living. He fought for the oppressed and poor all his life.

Premise/plot: Let Your Voice Be Heard is a biography of Pete Seeger written for children. (I'd say eight to twelve, if I had to put a label on it.) The biography is great at putting Pete Seeger's life into context for better understanding. Perhaps the author wanting to keep this one short and accessible for her audience, did not fully cover his life and music. It is not an exhaustive book on the subject. But a good, basic introduction.

My thoughts: I definitely found this one to be fascinating. I knew next to nothing about Pete Seeger before picking this one up. (I'm certainly no expert in folk music. My only familiarity at all coming from the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary.) I thought it was very well-written.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Let Your Voice Be Heard as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Tallulah's Tutu

Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah just knew she could be a great ballerina--if only she had a tutu. "And maybe a lesson or two," her mother said with a wink.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little girl who really, really wants a tutu. So long as she thinks she'll be getting her tutu soon or even very soon, she's super-motivated to practice. But the tutu is slow in coming, will Tallulah realize there's more to ballet than owning a tutu?

My thoughts: This is a cute book, some might even say a little too cute. But I am not one of them. I am quite tolerant of cute and overly cute books. I am so glad that Tallulah has her own series. I think this would make a great television show as well. Dare I admit that one of my favorite things about the book is Tallulah's little brother Beckett?

I think my absolutely favorite part of the book is the illustrations.

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


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Tutu as of 11/26/2015 3:25:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. Tallulah's Solo

Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah knew she was an excellent ballet dancer. So she was certain that this year she would be doing a solo in the winter recital.

Premise/plot: Tallulah's Solo is the second book in this picture book series. In this one, Tallulah's oh-so-adorable little brother, Beckett, begins to take ballet. The two are even in the same class. Will Beckett be as eager-to-learn and as well-behaved as Tallulah? Tallulah isn't all that concerned about her brother taking ballet. Her mind is on one thing only: getting a solo for the winter recital. Will this be the year?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this second book. I am enjoying the characters very much. I love Tallulah and Beckett. I wouldn't mind spending time with them in real life. I like Tallulah's big, big dreams. And I like that sometimes not getting what you want gets you what you need. I love how Tallulah learns a few important life-lessons in this one.

My favorite scene? When Tallulah helps her brother practice at home.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Solo as of 11/27/2015 9:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Tallulah's Nutcracker

Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.

First sentence: There was only one Christmas present that Tallulah really wanted. When the phone rang, she was sure her wish had come true--and she was right. 

Premise/plot: Tallulah is super-excited that she will be a mouse in a production of the Nutcracker. She finds out how much work it takes to be involved in the Nutcracker. Will opening night be as wonderful and as thrilling as she hopes?

My thoughts: I love the Nutcracker. And I love Tallulah. So I had high hopes for this one! I definitely enjoyed it. If I liked it a little less than the previous books in the series it might be because there isn't as much of Beckett in it. But still, overall, I would recommend it to anyone who loves happy ballet stories for children.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Nutcracker as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Tallulah's Toe Shoes

Tallulah's Toe Shoes. Marilyn Singer. Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  Tallulah could stand like a ballerina. Tallulah could move like a ballerina, too. But Tallulah knew she'd never be a ballerina until she got a pair of pink satin toe shoes.

Premise/plot: Little Tallulah is wanting to grow up a little too fast in this one. She really, really wants to be a 'grown up' ballerina now. She wants toe shoes of her own. Is she ready for toe shoes? Not really. This is a lesson she learns best on her own. And she'll get that chance when she finds a pair of discarded toe shoes in the trash!

My thoughts: Still enjoying the series very much.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Toe Shoes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Tallulah's Tap Shoes

Tallulah's Tap Shoes. Mairlyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah was excited about going to dance camp. She would get to take ballet every day. There was just one problem--she would also have to take tap and she was NOT looking forward to THAT.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little too used to being 'the best' at ballet to feel comfortable trying a new type of dance. She wants to either be the best at tap right away, or, not take it at all. To her way of thinking, if she can't be the best and be recognized as being 'the best' then it's not worth her time or effort. But is being the best what summer dance camp is all about?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I liked seeing Tallulah make a new friend. It was a very pleasing story. Even if Beckett was only in the last few pages.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Tap Shoes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Escape from Baxters' Barn

Escape from Baxters' Barn. Rebecca Bond. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed reading Escape from Baxters' Barn. Burdock, the 'hero' of the book, happens to hear an argument in the house. He reports the shocking truth of what he heard to the other barn animals later that day. While a few animals hold out hope for a day or two that maybe just maybe the situation isn't all that bad, it soon becomes clear that it IS that bad. The animals will have to seriously brainstorm and work together if they want to survive.

There is a certain intensity to Escape from Baxters' Barn. While readers may think it unlikely for the book to end in a disaster, the book is plotted so intensely that one gets caught up in worrying. I'll clarify. That was my personal experience. I was getting nervous, and I felt the need to check and double-check the ending to make sure that I wasn't going to regret picking it up!!! If I didn't have the ability to CHEAT when reading animal books, I'm not sure I'd ever pick one up and read it.

I liked the characters. I liked all the animals. And I liked how it all came together.

I don't always think of books to pair with another book, but in this case, it just came naturally. I would recommend Arthur, For the Very First Time by Patricia MacLachlan and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Escape from Baxters' Barn as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Best Young Adult Books with Deirdre Riordan Hall, Author of Pearl

During her teens, Deirdre Riordan Hall, author of PEARL, traveled throughout the United States and Europe, developing a love for stories and a desire to connect with worlds imagined or real on the page.

Add a Comment
14. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads. He will push his helmet slightly to one side, scratch his head thoughtfully, and then he will point his huge white-gloved finger and say: "First to your right, second to your left, sharp right again, and you're there. Good-morning."

Premise/plot: The Banks family is in need of a nanny. The children's idea of a 'perfect' nanny is far different from their parents idea. Mary Poppins is the practically-perfect nanny that transforms a family though this transformation is not overnight and without struggle. Each chapter is an adventure of sorts.




My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It wasn't the first time I read it. I've reread it a few times even. Some chapters I love and adore. Other chapters I merely like. But if you haven't read it, I think it's one you should consider reading! It is really different from the movie and live musical.
 
My favorite song from the live musical is Practically Perfect.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Mary Poppins as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Case of the Phantom Cat

Case of the Phantom Cat (Maisie HItchins #3) Holly Webb. Illustrated by Marion Lindsay. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed this one, I did. But I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two books in the Maisie Hitchin's mystery series. In the third mystery, Maisie meets a new friend, Alice. Alice takes French lessons from someone who boards with Maisie's grandmother. Alice has been sick and missed a few lessons, Maisie, curious as ever, goes to visit her. This will be their first time to actually talk freely and for any length of time. Some in Alice's household take a liking to Maisie, others not so much. Her father invites Maisie, whom he has just met, and whom his daughter has just met, to accompany his daughter to the country. The two girls will be accompanied by the governess. Things could go smoothly, or, not so smoothly for everyone...but with a title like CASE OF THE PHANTOM CAT...one can guess that trouble and danger are on the way...

Alice and Maisie do indeed find an adventure at the rented country house. But it isn't necessarily a dangerous one. Maisie will solve the mystery of the spooky sounds, the white "phantom" cat, and the HORRIBLE smell in the library...

If you're already hooked to the series, this one is worth your time. If you haven't met Maisie yet, this isn't the best introduction.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Case of the Phantom Cat as of 9/11/2015 11:57:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. WaterBridge Outreach Books Selection 2015

 

Logo: WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water

WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water recently announced the books in English they have selected this year for donation to the different schools and libraries they support around the world.  WaterBridge Outreach is a non-profit that seeks … Continue reading ...

Add a Comment
17. Betty Crocker Kids Cook

Betty Crocker Kids Cook. 1999/2015 (spiral-bound) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed skimming through Betty Crocker Kids Cook. I don't "review" cook books often, but, I do enjoy looking at ones specifically designed to appeal to children and teens. This one is written with kids of all ages in mind. It features recipes that kids can cook on their own with just a little guidance, and some more difficult recipes that may take more cooperation with an adult.

The recipes fall into five categories: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and desserts. The book includes simple instructions and guidelines for general cooking and baking. (The end papers illustrate the tools of the trade.) The "Just the Basics" section even includes the current nutritional guidelines, MyPlate.

The recipes themselves seem straightforward and reader-friendly. As an adult, I appreciate them listing the nutritional information for each recipe. (Serving size, number of calories, number of carbohydrates, amount of fat, amount of fiber, etc. It also includes the number of carbohydrate exchanges (choices) a serving is. Most of the recipes, though certainly not all, are carbohydrate heavy I noticed. Some recipes look delicious, very delicious, but are certainly not healthy enough to be eaten all that often, in my opinion.

The recipes that looked most appealing to me include:

  • Super-Tasty Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits (p. 23)
  • Surprise! Confetti Pasta Salad (p. 60)
  • Impossibly Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies (p. 98)
  • Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs and Spaghetti (p. 112)
  • Bottom of the Cereal Box Cookies (p. 140)
Do you have a favorite cookbook for children or teens?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Betty Crocker Kids Cook as of 9/19/2015 7:33:00 PM
Add a Comment
18. The Property Brothers Ink Deal With Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Add a Comment
19. Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter. Gary D. Schmidt. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Orbiting Jupiter is a great book: an emotional, compelling, coming-of-age story with an incredible focus on friendship and family and what it means to love someone.

Jack is the narrator of the book, and I absolutely loved, loved, loved him. I loved him from the start. Here's how the book opens: with Jack and his parents getting ready to welcome a very troubled boy into their home. Joseph, Jack's new foster brother, isn't like other eighth graders. He has a daughter he's never been allowed to see. He has a history of violence. And because of the institutions he's been in, he can freak out and overreact a bit. But Jack's family, well, they are good, solid, dependable, patient, heart-wide-open people ready to love and accept. From the day he walks into their home, they see him as family. And there's nothing Jack won't do to help his brother--sometimes that means giving him plenty of space, and not pushing him to talk, sometimes that means reassuring him that he's there for him, that he has his back, that he is not alone anymore.

But not everyone in the community is ready to welcome Joseph. In particular, some of the people at schools--some who should know better, others who probably don't--are not ready for Joseph. Some are openly hostile and just MEAN. Others treat him not as another human being, but, as a spectacle, a freak. But several teachers see through Joseph's past and come to really LOVE him and see that he's more than the choices he's made, that, he is in fact, really smart and capable of good. I both loved and hated the school scenes. There were a few times I was just so angry--like Jack--in Joseph's defense. And there were a few scenes I just found sweet.

Joseph's story slowly but surely unfolds, and, it is intense. I couldn't help liking Joseph and just caring for him and wanting the best for him.

Orbiting Jupiter is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that worked for me for the most part. But oh how I wish I could rewrite the ending! Not because this one doesn't feel good-enough or that it feels completely out-of-place, but, because it's just so achingly bittersweet.



© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Orbiting Jupiter as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Lana's World. Let's Have A Parade!

Lana's World: Let's Have A Parade. Erica Silverman. Illustrated by Jess Golden. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pitter pitter pat, sang the rain. Mama was making pancakes. "Let's have a parade," said Lana. "It's raining," said Mama. Papa set the table. "Let's have a parade," said Lana. "We'll all get wet," said Papa. Jay poured syrup. So did Ray. "Let's have a parade," said Lana.

Premise/plot: Lana, the heroine, really, really wants to have a parade. Her family have excuses, admittedly good excuses, for not wanting to have a parade. When she can't get anyone to join her, she creates her own parade. In the house, of course. Will her family want to join in on the fun once they see how much fun she's having?!

My thoughts: I've read two books in this series so far, and I've enjoyed both of them very much. The books are quite similar to one another, both focus in on playing pretend, so if you love one, you may very well love both. I hope there are MORE books to come in this series!!! The other title I've read is Let's Go Fishing.

This book is a Level Two Green Light Reader published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Level 2 is reading with help.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Lana's World. Let's Have A Parade! as of 10/10/2015 2:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
21. Lana's World. Let's Go Fishing

Lana's World: Let's Go Fishing. Erica Silverman. Illustrated by Jess Golden. 2015. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Let's go fishing," said Lana.

Premise/plot: Lana spends the first several pages of this early reader trying to get the rest of her family to go fishing with her. Her Papa. Her Mama. Her brothers, Jay and Ray. Her dog, Furry. No one "wants" to go fishing, so, off she heads to her bedroom to fish by herself...

My thoughts: I love Lana, her imagination, and her family. I liked the focus on playing pretend, and, I love how her family eventually joined in on the fun.

The book is a Level 2 Green Light Reader published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Level 2 is "reading with help.")

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Lana's World. Let's Go Fishing as of 10/10/2015 2:11:00 PM
Add a Comment
22. Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters

Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters. Dav Pilkey. 2015. HMH. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I happen to love Big Dog and Little Dog. You might come to love them too if you read this oh-so-fun series of Early Readers published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Dav Pilkey's series is super-fun.

Little Dog has a sweater. Big Dog does not. Does he want a sweater? Of course! Little Dog and Big Dog go in search of a sweater. Will they find one? Will it be easy or difficult? How much "help" does Big Dog need?

Out of all the Big Dog Little Dog books I've read, this one is probably my least favorite. I think probably because it's not quite as funny as the previous books in the series. That being said, I still love the series overall and would definitely recommend them. This title is good, but not GREAT. Good is still worth reading, in my opinion!

This book does have activities at the end. This one has a maze, for example. But new readers can also practice story sequencing. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Big Dog and Little Dog Wearing Sweaters as of 10/30/2015 3:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
23. Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root. Christopher Pennell. Illustrated by Rebecca Bond. 2011/2013. HMH. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root? Yes. Very much. I found it a quick, compelling, delightfully atmospheric fantasy for middle graders.

Here's how it begins: "In a small town called Whistle Root, rats play music in the moonlight." It was a curious way to start a book, in my opinion, and it got me reading. (And this despite the OWL on the cover.)

Carly, the heroine, has trouble sleeping at night. If left alone, she'd gladly sleep all day, stay awake all night. Even if staying awake at night means considerable loneliness with little to no interaction with others. But she's not left alone, not technically, and so when the school year starts, Carly's worst nightmare begins: she's forced to attend school AND stay awake. Her teachers do find it annoying, to say the least, that Carly falls asleep several times throughout the day. And I'd even go so far as to say that her teachers bully her because they are so unhappy with her. But the students, her classmates, REALLY bully her. Carly has made peace, so we're allowed to think, with the fact that she'll never have friends because no one will ever understand her or like her. But this year, that changes. One person does notice her, does like her, and seeks to be friends with her. Of course this person has issues of his own perhaps! But still, his friendship with Carly is special....

Carly lives for the night, lives for the time she plays music with RATS, well, one rat in particular. He takes her with him to the woods. (He can fly on the wind, she has to concentrate on staying caught up with him.) She's soon on visiting terms with a rat community that is facing great danger. She may be able to help. But helping means having to solve a complicated mystery first...and she may not solve it in time to save those she's come to care for.

I liked the world-building in this one, the story-within-a-story aspect of it. It worked for me.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root as of 11/3/2015 4:44:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. Breakthrough

Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

If I had to describe Breakthrough in just a few words, I'd choose these: fascinating, compelling, a must-read. If I had to pack it all into one sentence? Something like, Breakthrough by Jim Murphy is a fine narrative example of nonfiction for young readers at its best. Of course, I don't have to limit my review to just a few words or a few sentences. But the best books so overwhelm you with their greatness that though you want to gush about them at great length, you're sometimes at a loss of words for you know that you can never do the book you just read and loved justice.

Breakthrough is the story of three people: Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Helen Taussig, and Vivien Thomas. Dr. Blalock was a doctor who spent most of his time doing research, his specialty was studying shock: what it was, what caused it, how to fix it and save lives. He was a doctor who needed a research assistant, a more-than-capable research assistant, an assistant that would be able to do his own research, experiments, and surgeries. That assistant was a black man, Vivien Thomas. He was not technically a doctor or a surgeon. So his story of how he became part of this historic team is quite fascinating. (It would have been easy for most who worked at the hospital to assume that Thomas was a janitor, a "mere" janitor, if you will. But that was so far from the case!!!)  

Readers learn about all three people--their stories and backgrounds and how they came together to help save 'blue babies.' Readers also learn a bit about the field of medicine at the time--the 1930s and 1940s. Heart surgery was not done at the time; it was almost unthinkable for doctors and surgeons to contemplate operating on the heart. "Blue babies" were babies born with heart defects. They might live for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years. But all babies born with heart defects were almost surely fated to die early. Dr. Helen Taussig was a pediatrician who was broken-hearted enough about it to want to do something. Even if other doctors were hesitant or even hostile to help her in her research. She ended up working with Dr. Blalock, and his involvement meant Vivien Thomas doing much of the work: the tests, the experiments, the surgeries, all on animal test subjects of course. The author does address how some found this controversial--doing surgeries and experiments on animals, in this case on dogs--but he stresses how valuable the research was to doctors, and, how their discoveries led to life-changing techniques and practices that would never have been possible without that initial animal research. Thomas, the man doing the test surgeries, also needed to invent the surgical tools to operate.

And without a doubt this first case of heart surgery on a baby, Eileen Saxon, was life-changing. (I believe it was one of the first (successful) heart surgeries ever performed.) This surgery changed the lives of the doctors, changed the field of medicine, and changed people's perceptions of what was possible.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Breakthrough as of 11/16/2015 11:18:00 AM
Add a Comment
25. Two Mice

Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
One house
Two Mice
Three cookies.
Premise/plot: Readers meet two mice and follow them through MANY adventures. The text is simple. And there is a definite pattern to it. One, two, three. Three, two, one. One, two, three. Three, two, one. And so forth. Because the text is so simple, in my opinion, most of the story is communicated through the details of the illustrations. For example, note the expression on the face of the mouse who only gets ONE cookie while his roommate gets TWO cookies. (The one with two cookies did get up earlier than the other mouse.)

My thoughts: I see this one as having again-again appeal for children. That is just my opinion or best guess. But there is something fun and playful and perfect about this one. I loved it. I really, really loved it. And the "really, really" was added after I read it several times. The first time I thought it was cute, it was good. But the third or fourth time through it was LOVE.

I loved everything about it. The jacket flap reads, "One house. Who lives there? Two mice. What's on their table? Three cookies. How many mice are needed for a big adventure? Two mice! You can go with them--it's as easy as one two three!" That has to be the best jacket flap I read this year. If a prize could be given for best jacket flap, this book deserves the win!!!

The story begins even before the title page. So DON'T skip past it. The story itself is wonderful and clever.

The illustrations are GREAT.

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


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Two Mice as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts