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1. Seuss on Saturday #48

I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Please let me be. Please go away. I am NOT going to get up today! The alarm can ring. The birds can peep. My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep.

Premise/plot: This little boy is GOING to sleep. Don't bother trying to make him get up and out of bed.

My thoughts: I like it. I don't love, love, love it. But who can really argue with, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep"?

Have you read I Am Not Going To Get Up Today! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Oh, The Places You'll Go 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. 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

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3. Review of the Day: The Red Hat by David Teague

51xONVs2CGLThe Red Hat
By David Teague
Illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Disney Hyperion (an imprint of Disney Book Group)
ISBN: 9781423134114
Ages 4-7
On shelves December 8th

There is a story out there, and I don’t know if it is true, that the great children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore had such a low opinion of children’s books that involved “gimmicks” (read: interactive elements of any sort) that upon encountering them she’d dismiss each and every one with a single word: Truck. If it was seen as below contempt, it was “truck”. Pat the Bunny, for example, was not to her taste, but it did usher in a new era of children’s literature. Books that, to this day, utilize different tricks to engage the interest of child readers. In the best of cases the art and the text of a picture book are supposed to be of the highest possible caliber. To paraphrase Walter de la Mare, only the rarest kind of best is good enough for our kids, yes? That said, not all picture books have to attempt to be works of great, grand literature and artistic merit. There are funny books and silly ones that do just as well. Take it a step even farther, and I’d say that the interactive elements that so horrified Ms. Moore back in the day have great potential to aid in storytelling. Though she would be (rightly) disgusted by books like Rainbow Fish that entice children through methods cheap and deeply unappealing, I fancy The Red Hat would have given her pause. After considering the book seriously, a person can’t dismiss it merely because it tends towards the shiny. Lovingly written and elegantly drawn, Teague and Portis flirt with transparent spot gloss, but it’s their storytelling and artistic choices that will keep their young readers riveted.

With a name like Billy Hightower, it’s little wonder that the boy in question lives “atop the world’s tallest building”. It’s a beautiful view, but a lonely one, so when a construction crew one day builds a tower across the way, the appearance of a girl in a red hat intrigues Billy. Desperate to connect with her, he attempts various methods of communication, only to be stumped by the wind at every turn. Shouting fails. Paper airplanes plummet. A kite dances just out of reach. Then Billy tries the boldest method of reaching the girl possible, only to find that he himself is snatched from her grasp. Fortunately a soft landing and a good old-fashioned elevator trump the wind at last. Curlicues of spot gloss evoke the whirly-twirly wind and all its tricksy ways.

Great Moments of Spot Gloss in Picture Book History: Um . . . hm. That’s a stumper. I’m not saying it’s never happened. I’m just saying that when I myself try to conjure up a book, any book, that’s ever used it to proper effect, I pull up a blank. Now what do I mean exactly when I say this book is using this kind of “gloss”? Well, it’s a subtle layer of shininess. Not glittery, or anything so tawdry as that. From cover to interior spreads, these spirals of gloss evoke the invisible wind. They’re lovely but clearly mischievous, tossing messages and teasing the ties of a hat. Look at the book a couple times and you notice that the only part of the book that does not contain this shiny wind is the final two-page image of our heroes. They’re outdoors but the wind has been defeated in the face of Billy’s persistence. If you feel a peace looking at the two kids eyeing one another, it may have less to do with what you see than what you don’t.

Naturally Antoinette Portis is to be credited here, though I don’t know if the idea of using the spot gloss necessarily originated with her. It is possible that the book’s editor tossed Portis the manuscript with the clear understanding that gloss would be the name of the game. That said, I felt like the illustrator was given a great deal of room to grow with this book. I remember back in the day when her books Not a Box and Not a Stick were the height of 32-page minimalism. She has such a strong sense of design, but even when she was doing books like Wait and the rather gloriously titled Princess Super Kitty her color scheme was standard. In The Red Hat all you have to look at are great swath of blue, the black and white of the characters, an occasional jab of gray, and the moments when red makes an appearance. There is always a little jolt of red (around Billy’s neck, on a street light, from a carpet, etc). It’s the red coupled with that blue that really makes the book pop. By all rights a red, white, and blue cover should strike you on some level as patriotic. Not the case here.

Not that the book is without flaw. For the most part I enjoyed the pacing of the story. I loved the fairytale element of Billy tossed high into the sky by a jealous wind. I loved the color scheme, the gloss, and the characters. What I did not love was a moment near the end of the book where pertinent text is completely obscured by its placement on the art. Billy has flown and landed from the sky. He’s on the ground below, the wind buffeting him like made. He enters the girl’s building and takes the elevator up. The story says, “At the elevator, he punched UP, and he knocked at the first door on the top floor.” We see him extending his hand to the girl, her hat clutched in the other. Then you turn the page and it just says, “The Beginning.” Wait, what? I had to go back and really check before I realized that there was a whole slew of text and dialogue hidden at the bottom of that previous spread. Against a speckled gray and white floor the black text is expertly camouflaged. I know that some designers cringe at the thought of suddenly interjecting a white text box around a selection of writing, but in this particular case I’m afraid it was almost a necessity. Either than or toning down the speckles to the lightest of light grays.

Aside from that, it’s sublime. A sweet story of friendship (possibly leading to more someday) from the top of the world. Do we really believe that Billy lives on the top of the highest building in the world? Billy apparently does, and that’s good enough for us. But even the tallest building can find its match. And even the loneliest of kids can, through sheer pig-headed persistence, make their voices heard. A windy, shiny book without a hint of bluster.

On shelves December 8th.

Source: F&G sent from publisher for review.

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4. The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, Marie's favorite night of the year. She was so excited that she did a pirouette on her way to the drawing room, where she joined her brother, Fritz, at the big double doors.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I do. I listen to it frequently--all throughout the year. Why limit the music itself to just one time of year?! That being said, I like the ballet. I've only seen it performed once or perhaps twice. Though there are plenty of movie adaptations of it as well. Perhaps I should try to watch some of these. (Do you have a favorite? a least favorite?)

Stephanie Spinner's picture book retells the story of the ballet for young readers. It is not a retelling of the original Nutcracker story. Which I think is probably for the best! Since most people, I imagine, are more familiar with the ballet than with the original work by E.T.A. Hoffmann. (Hoffmann's work reads more like Alice in Wonderland.)

The illustrations. There were a few spreads that I just loved, loved, loved. But for the most part, I tended to "like" more than "love" the illustrations.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. 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

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6. Review: Dolphin SOS, by Roy Miki & Slavia Miki and Julie Flett

Dolphin SOS, written by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki, illustrated by Julie Flett, afterword by Richard Cannings (Tradewind Books, 2014)


Dolphin SOS
written by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki, illustrated by Julie Flett, afterword by Richard Cannings
(Tradewind … Continue reading ...

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7. Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti

Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth with illustrations by Lucia Gaggiotti is the fantastic companion to equally fantastic How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?, published in 2011. What I love about both books is the intended audience, which I would say is roughly 3 - 6 years old. The text in Butterworth's books is short and playful, drawing readers in. Gagiotti's illustrations are superb. She captures the absolute cuteness and fun of little kid clothes (and little kids) while also doing a fine job of illustrating industrial machinery and factory work.

Where Did My Clothes Come From? is definitely a global book with Butterworth focusing on textiles that have interesting creation processes, from blue jeans and sweaters to silk, soccer uniforms, boots and fleece. Besides cotton, rubber and wool, Butterworth also notes other plants that clothes are made from, like linen and hemp, and other animals that wool is collected from, like yaks, camels, bison, rabbits and goats.

Where Did My Clothes Come From? gently touches on what has become a national issue, clothing waste. Butterworth makes some friendly suggestions for reusing clothes that you have "grown out of or just don't love anymore" without specifically stating that the influx of cheap and cheaply made clothing encourages Americans to buy more and toss more clothes every year. Apparently not everyone sends cloths to Amvets or Goodwill, nor, according to the infographic below, does everyone know that out of the 13 million tons of textiles trashed every year, only 2 million of that is recovered for reuse or recycling.

This is heady information for the intended audience, but a message that the adults reading the book could probably stand to hear. For readers and listeners who are fascinated by Where Did My Clothes Come From?, check out this book:

For slightly older readers, don't miss:

Source: Review Copy

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8. A Very Special Christmas Tree, by Debra Buchanan | Dedicated Review

A Very Special Christmas Tree is a picture book that helps spread the “true meaning” of Christmas.

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9. Harold at the North Pole

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. 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

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11. 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

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12. The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds

After 22 years of reading Christmas books to my kids, it is rare that I find a holiday book that is worthy of sharing here. But, when Peter H. Reynolds, author of the Creatrilogy of picture books that explore creativity and inspiration, creates a Christmas book, you know it will be worth buying and reading year after year. It is a good thing to have at least one or two picture books that help kids recognize the rampant consumerism of this season, and The Smallest Gift of Christmas is a reminder in the gentlest, most subtle of ways, which is exactly what I look for in a book with a message. The message of The Gift of Christmas is one that is easy to forget this time of year - being with people you love is the best gift, no matter what time of year. Reynolds wraps this message (which has been clobbered in so many other Christmas books) in a story that is sure to entertain young listeners and readers and presents it in a tiny trim size along with a photo-frame ornament.

The Gift of Christmas begins, "Roland was eager for Christmas Day." The accompanying illustration shows stockings hung over the fireplace, Roland's reaching all the way down to the floor. When Roland races downstairs on Christmas morning only to see the "smallest gift he had ever seen," he wonders, "had he waited all year for this tiny gift?" Roland closes his eyes and wishes his hardest for a bigger gift - and he gets it. Over the course of a few pages, his greed grows, as does the size of his gift. Finally, he heads off to search the universe for the biggest gift. When he looks into his telescope and sees earth shrinking to a tiny dot that will soon disappear, he realizes that what he really wants is to be back on earth and home with his family. As is rocket lands gently in his snowy front yard, Roland realizes that the "smallest speck was his biggest gift."

Short, simple and sweet. The Smallest Gift of Christmas is one that kids need to (and will want to) hear more than once.

Source: Review Copy

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13. The Sock Monkey Trilogy by Cece Bell

If you know anything about kid's books, kid's book awards and graphic novels, then the name Cece Bell should not be new to you. I had the pleasure of getting to know her work before she wowed the world with the 2015 Newbery Honor book, El Deafo, and am so happy to get to spend more time with her books now, especially her creation, Sock Monkey and all his friends. Bell has a sensibility that is a bit left of everyday and a wonderful way of somehow making every story, very subtly and sweetly, about acceptance, friendship, bravery and love. Originally published almost 10 years ago, Candlewick wisely, happily, has reissued Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie and Sock Monkey Rides Again.

Sock Monkey is a famous toy actor. He is also kind of a stand in for toddlers. In Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey gets some good news and some bad news. He has been nominated* for "Best Supporting Toy in a Motion Picture" and has been invited to attend the Oswald Awards Ceremony at the Big Theater. The asterisk notes that "Nominees MUST be clean." Just thinking about taking a bath makes Sock Monkey, "dizzy with fear." Happily, his best friends, Miss Bunn, Froggie and Blue Pig are free to help him out. Miss Bunn takes him to bathe with mild soap and a few other monkeys in a hot springs atop a snowy mountain. Froggie helps him rinse in the clear, cool water of a pond and Blue Pig gets Sock Monkey to the desert where he can bask "all day in the sizzling sunshine." Clean and calm, Sock Monkey heads to the awards where he faces disappointments and surprises and a lot of great word play from Bell.
While I love all three books, I think that Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie just might be my favorite. Sock Monkey is going to the Big Celebrity Dance and is super excited - until he discovers he doesn't have a partner! His three best friends are traveling, but they send home gifts that come together to make - another monkey! Sock Buddy can make cupcakes AND turns out to be the perfect dance partner! They impress everyone at the dance and, best of all, when Sock Monkey's friends meet Sock Buddy, they feel like they've known him forever. What I especially love about Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie is the fact that Sock Monkey and Sock Buddy both seem to be guys. Bell  makes the less conventional choice and it makes the book all the more completely lovable.

Sock Monkey Rides Again finds our famous toy actor in another difficult situation. This time, it's not the prospect of having to bathe that is throwing him off, it's the fact that he will have to kiss the leading lady! In order to star as Red Reardon in "Hubbub at the Happy Canyon Hoedown," Sock Monkey will also have to learn to yodel, ride a horse, lasso a cow and get some cool duds. As always, Sock Monkey's friends are there to help out. But, when it comes time to kiss Lulu Nevada, he just can't do it and Lulu is left in tears. No matter how he tries to console her, he realizes there is really only one thing he can do, and he does it. And the director gets his shot!

I have been reading Sock Money Takes a Bath, Sock Monkey Boogie-Woogie and Sock Monkey Rides Again over and over to my students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, and they all love Sock Monkey. Also, all three books always seem to spark some kind of discussion, whether it's about how to make a sock monkey, or looking at pictures of the monkeys in the hot springs. 

The original inspirations for the cast of the Sock Monkey books!

More books by Cece Bell


Source: Review Copy

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14. A Visit with Stephen Alcorn: For the Love of Drawing

The Alcorn Homestead & Gallery; Mixed media on paper   Pictured above is an image from illustrator and printmaker Stephen Alcorn. It depicts the home he grew up in; Stephen’s father was artist, designer, and children’s book illustrator John Alcorn, who died in 1992. (There’s more information here at 7-Imp about John and his work.) […]

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15. The Only Child

The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the author's note: The story in this book is fantasy, but it reflects the very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980s under the one-child policy in China.

Premise/plot: This is a wordless picture book. I'm tempted to call this one a picture book for older readers. Though I'm not sure that's entirely fair to the book. It may depend more on your child's attention span and interests. The art is without a doubt captivating and beautiful. The premise is simple: a young girl's loneliness ultimately leads to her getting lost. At some point, reality blends with fantasy. Where is that point exactly??? I'm not sure I can answer that!

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved the art. It does a great job in conveying emotion, for the most part. I tend to struggle with finding the story in wordless picture books at times. The more complex a book is, the more I struggle. Ultimately I found The Only Child to be worth the effort it took to find and follow the story. But that being said, I'm not sure I fully got every page of the story. Still it's easy to recommend for the art alone.

Text 0 out of 0
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 5

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Review of Lost. Found.

arnold_lost foundLost. Found.
by Marsha Diane Arnold; 
illus. by Matthew Cordell
Preschool   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp.
11/15   978-1-62672-017-6   $16.99

A bear’s red wool scarf is carried off by a strong gust of wind (“Lost”). Two quarrelsome raccoons spy the scarf lying in the snow (“Found”); they get into a tiff and run off squabbling, leaving the scarf behind (“Lost”). Next, a beaver finds it and dons the scarf as headgear…until it’s snagged by a low-hanging branch and lost again. With one of the two title words on most pages (there are also some well-placed wordless pages), this effectively paced story plays out in Cordell’s lively but spare pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures (occasional silly sound effects included). The book invites participation, and young listeners will quickly catch on to the narrative pattern. The scarf is found and lost five more times by various woodland creatures who tug, pull, squeeze, swing on, jump on, and brawl over it. It’s at this point that the rightful owner re-enters the story: the bear finds the scarf completely unraveled but doesn’t lose hope. Along with some contrite-looking critters, the bear gathers the yarn and knits a new scarf, one that brings everyone together — in friendship. The final cozy, color-drenched scene (a departure from the preceding white-dominated pages) shows the characters sitting companionably around a nighttime campfire connected by the scarf, which fits everyone perfectly. Pair this with Kasza’s Finders Keepers (rev. 9/15) for more lost-and-found accessory fun.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Lost. Found. appeared first on The Horn Book.

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17. Mini Grey presents SPACE DOG

The mind of Mini Grey is a wondrous, playful thing and I am thankful that she is both a gifted author and illustrator who can convey that on the pages of a picture book again and again. Here newest picture book, Space Dog, is chock full of story - visual and text - from endpaper to endpaper, which begins with a map of the Cake Space Quadrant.

Space Dog begins, "It's the year 3043 and, for as long as anyone on Home Planet can remember, Space Dogs, Astro Cats, and Moustronauts have been sworn enemies." Space Dog has long been "sorting out planetary problems" in the Dairy Quadrant. As Space Dog tackles things in the Breakfast Cluster like a milk-drought on Cornflake 5 and a milk surplus on Bottleopolis, he finds that he is just a little bit lonely when he returns to his ship, the SS Kennel

Space Dog isn't alone for long, though. After Astrocat needs rescuing and comes aboard the SS Kennel, Space Dog begins to see some good in his cake-baking-Dogopoly-playing shipmate. The two even tackle a "critical situation on Fry Up 42! Then, the head off to rescue Moustronaut from the dribbling mandibles of a cheese-collecting Queen ant. Grey ends Space Dog beautifully, with the three newly sworn friends "playing Dogopoly before dinner. Nobody is completely sure of the exact rules . . . but that doesn't seem to matter."

More Mini Grey!

Source: Review Copy

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18. Winnie

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Harry Colebourn looked out of the train window, he couldn't believe what he saw: a bear at the station!

Premise/plot: This picture book is the 'true story' of the real bear named Winnie that was eventually given to the London Zoo. The book ends by introducing readers to a young Christopher Robin who enjoys visiting Winnie at the zoo.

My thoughts: Most of the picture book takes place during World War I. You probably can't think of many picture books about World War I or set during World War I, I know I can't think of any others at the moment! Harry Colebourn is a soldier, a Canadian soldier, and the war is in the background. As an adult reader, I felt the war was rightly in the background. I'm not sure if young readers will read the book in quite the same way. Winnie, the bear, is a friend, companion, mascot, not just to one soldier--though Harry is his favorite--but to a regiment. When Harry's called to fight overseas in Europe, Winnie is left in the care of the London Zoo. An author's note fills in the details of Winnie's life after the publication of A.A. Milne's classic children's book.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Reconciliation and Friendship in the Face of Fear and Distrust in Children’s and YA Books

Mirrors Windows Doors article: Reconciliation and Friendship in the Face of Fear and Distrust in Children's and YA BooksA few weeks ago, amidst the deepening refugee crisis from the war in Syria, many people and organisations around the world came together for the Continue reading ...

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20. Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop

Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o! And in her shop she had a saw, e-i-e-i-o! With a zztt zztt here and a zztt zztt there, here a zztt, there a zztt, everywhere a zztt zztt. Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o.

Premise/plot: Old MacDonald and other animals from the farm are building something, and they are using lots of different tools. But what are they building? Can you guess before the big reveal?

My thoughts: Loved this one from the very beginning, and I do mean the beginning. The endpapers of this one are very fun! Readers see all HER tools hanging up in the shop. Each one clearly labeled. Some may be familiar to children, others may not be. Regardless, it sets a great mood for the book. Instead of celebrating animal sounds, this book, this song, if you will, celebrates the sounds that tools make, and celebrates the act of building and designing.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop as of 11/20/2015 10:26:00 AM
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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring John Hendrix

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote here about Tom Angleberger’s McToad Mows Tiny Island (Abrams, September 2015), illustrated by John Hendrix. Today, let’s take a peek inside the book. If John Hendrix’s art doesn’t wake you up this morning, I don’t know what will. * * * There have been a lot of discussions this […]

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring John Hendrix, last added: 11/23/2015
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22. you’ve sold your first book–now what?

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

We are in for a treat, my little ginger scones. Frog on a Dime is delighted to welcome a very special guest blogger–debut author extraordinaire Kris Remenar.

Leave a comment on this post by Noon (EST) on November 25, and you’ll be entered to win your very own copy of GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA.

Okay, Frog on a Dime is all yours. Take it away, my darlin’ friend!





Congratulations! You sold your first manuscript! After you’ve popped the champagne to toast your sale, you might wonder – what do I do now?

Become “findable” online. You want people to know who you are, what you write, how they can buy your books, and how to contact you. Build your own website or hire a web designer. If the idea of a website makes your throat close, start with an author page on a book site like Amazon or GoodReads. Explore social media options like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Trying to do everything at once is guaranteed to scramble your brains, so take it slow and do what works for you.

Set up book signings. Contact local bookstores to set up a book launch party. To broaden thegroundhogsdilemma (2) marketing reach, consider creating signing events with other authors/illustrators. Research events where there will be people with a special interest in your book. Because my first picture book is called GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, Matt Faulkner and I will be signing books at the Howell Nature Center on February 2nd during their annual Groundhog Day celebration. If you’re willing to travel, see if you can sign books at conferences for groups like the ALA (American Library Association) or NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English).

Consider school and library events. Check with area libraries to see if they have author events in which you can participate. For school and library events, you want to offer more than just a reading of your book. For younger ones, plan an interactive story time, and for olders, prepare a presentation about your process, or publishing, or ways your book ties into the curriculum.

Overwhelmed? Reach out to experienced authors and illustrators for advice, or ask librarians and teachers what they’ve seen that works. Hire a marketing genius like Kirsten Cappy of Curious City or an educational guru like Deb Gonzales for promotional ideas.

Literary genius Sarah Miller asked me an important question when I was frazzled making multiple promotional plans: “Will it be fun?” After working so hard to get published, don’t forget to enjoy signing the books and interacting with your readers. There is no magic formula to guarantee your bestseller status. Do what works for you, do what makes you happy, and keep writing so you can go through the whole process again soon when your next manuscript sells.

Illustrator Matt Faulkner and Author Kris Remenar

Illustrator Matt Faulkner and Author Kris Remenar

Kristen Remenar is busy promoting and hugging tightly her first picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA (Charlesbridge, 2015, illustrated by Matt Faulkner) and her first adult book, DRAW WITH A VENGEANCE: GET EVEN IN INK AND LET KARMA HANDLE THE REST (Running Press, 2015).



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23. Seuss on Saturday #47

You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: One day you will read in the National Geographic of a faraway land with no smelly bad traffic.

Premise/plot: An old man is "stuck" worrying at the doctor's office--or hospital--as various tests and procedures are done for his check up.

My thoughts: You're Only Old Once is definitely a picture book for older readers. Perhaps mainly adult readers. It is clever, in places, and overall I think it's a book worth reading. One example of the cleverness is the eye test or the "eyesight and solvency test" which reads:
Here's another favorite part:
Dietician Von Eiffel controls the Wuff-Whiffer, our Diet-Devising Computerized Sniffer, on which you just simply lie down in repose and sniff at good food as it goes past your nose....And when that guy finds out what you like, you can bet it won't be on your diet. From here on, forget it!
Have you read You're Only Old Once! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #459: Featuring Csil

“Yes, but how? Traveling is out of the question!Cathy is much too weak to go on an expedition.What to do …? What to do …?Cathy tries to laugh and tells Eiffel with a wink,‘You could build us a railway that takes us up to the clouds in a blink.'”(Click to enlarge)   When the New […]

3 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #459: Featuring Csil, last added: 11/22/2015
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25. Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on.

Premise: Readers meet Harold, a young boy with a purple crayon. Harold is always finding himself in the middle of adventures. He can draw his way in and out of those adventures. For example, his shaking hand causes the purple crayon to make waves and he finds himself drowning in the ocean. No cause for fear though, just draw a boat and get inside.

My thoughts: I really love Harold and his purple crayon. I found the book playful and fun and simple and wonderful. Have you read Harold and the Purple Crayon? What was your favorite scene? I love Harold's picnic with the nine kinds of pie!!! I like how he draws animals to finish the pies. The picture of the porcupine is so cute and adorable!

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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