Friday, March 23, 2018

A Gift for Mama

A Gift for Mama. Esther Hautzig. 1981/1997. Penguin. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Sara was sick and tired of making presents. And Mother's Day was coming. For birthdays and for Hanukkah, for anniversaries and for Mother's Day, Sara always had to make a gift. Mama said that the best presents were handmade presents.

Premise/plot: Sara, our heroine, has determined that she will BUY her mother a present this year. This won't be easy. She doesn't have an allowance. She doesn't have money saved up. She has nothing but her determination--her grit--to find a way to make it happen. She knows exactly what she wants to buy her mother--a pair of slippers that her mother has admired from a store's window display. She knows exactly how much they cost--nine zlotys. How resourceful can one girl be?

My thoughts: The setting of this one is very understated. I believe it is set in Poland in the 1930s. It stars a Jewish family in a Jewish community. The focus isn't on HISTORY or DANGER or THREATS. The focus is on family--immediate and extended. The focus is on relationships. I love seeing how close Sara is to her aunt, Margola. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED seeing their bond. And Sara also has a close relationship with her grandmother. This is without a doubt a character-driven story. And it packs a lot of emotion and intensity into its pages.

For better or worse, the Mama of the family--whom Sara LOVES--seems to have some big issues, unresolved issues from her past. And she's far from perfect. But just because she's far from perfect--in our eyes--doesn't make her any less loved by Sara or any of the rest of her family.

I could relate to Sara--her stubbornness, her sensitivity, her wearing her heart on her sleeve, her feeling emotions so deeply and intensely. Sara is the exact opposite of her mother in so many ways. But love connects them even if communicating by words--even actions--doesn't. I think that you could say they speak different love languages.

I'm not sure what I would have thought about this one as a child, but I could relate to it as an adult. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Board Book: Mustache Baby Meets His Match

Mustache Baby Meets His Match (Board Book) Bridget Heos. Illustrated by Joy Ang. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Baby Billy was born with a mustache.

Premise/plot: This is the sequel to Mustache Baby. In this second book, Baby Billy is mostly at odds with Baby Javier, a bearded baby. The problem? Baby Javier and Baby Billy both want to be THE BOSS and tell the other what to do. Also both babies want to be THE BEST. Can these two learn to be friends and get along?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I don't know that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it like I did the first book. But I liked it. The illustrations make this a clever read. It's the little details--often in the illustrations--that bring a smile. For example, when the two compete at running for President.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Old Hat

Old Hat. Emily Gravett. 2017/2018. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Harbet had a hat. His Nana had knitted it for him when he was little. It was warm and cozy, and it kept his ears toasty. It was an...OLD HAT!

Premise/plot: Does Harbet need new hats or new friends? That isn't exactly the problem as Harbet sees it, but it's how this adult reader sees it. Harbet is a dog that gets teased for wearing an old hat. The first teasing incident might have some basis of truth. It is an old hat--a beloved old hat upon his head. But all the other incidents, well, that's more bullying in my opinion. Harbet copies the hats of his friends time after time after time after time. He even starts subscribing to the same hat-themed magazines that his friends do. Always the response is the same: OLD HAT. If Harbet is wearing it, it is no longer cool. Will Harbet learn a lesson by the end of the book?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I personally LOVED the hat his Nana made him. I would have seen nothing wrong with him keeping that old hat. It was a good, practical, traditional hat. Some of these other hats are OVER-THE-TOP ridiculous. This says something about trends in general, trends for kids and adults. And perhaps a little something about our materialistic market-driven culture as well. Nothing is too extreme if you market it just right and have influencers.

His friends. Are they really ever his friends? I like that Harbet really only becomes happy or content when he stops caring what they say...or what they think.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pig and Cat Are Pals

Pig and Cat Are Pals. Douglas Florian. 2018. Holiday House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Pig and Cat are pals. Pig and Cat like to bike.

Premise/plot: Pig and Cat Are Palls is a new 'I Like To Read' book by Douglas Florian. Pig first appeared in Pig Is Big On Books. This early reader is friendship themed. Pig and Cat are friends. What will happen when Pig makes a new friend, Dog. Can Pig, Cat, and Dog be friends together. Or will Cat be sad and lonely?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. Perhaps I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Pig Is Big on Books and I just enjoyed Pig and Cat Are Pals. The words are very simple. (The book is Guided Reading Level C.) The theme is simple and basic as well. I think it is something every one of us--no matter how old or young--can relate to and identify with. The illustrations are unique in a way. They are crayon on manila paper. Not so unique for a child in elementary school writing his/her first story. But definitely not your traditional illustration style for a successful, accomplished author. I found the illustrations to be expressive and convey a lot of emotion.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, March 19, 2018

Ultimate Collector's Guide to the Beanie Boos

Beanie Boos: Ultimate Collector's Guide. Meredith Rusu. 2018. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 This one contains information or "super stats" on over three-hundred beanie boos. Beanie Boos for those not in the know are Beanie Babies with HUGE eyes. They can come in up to five different sizes: clip, regular, medium, large, and extra-large. Not every single beanie boo comes in all five sizes.

Does the book contain EVERYTHING you might want to know about collecting Beanie Boos? Not really. For one thing it doesn't state *when* a Beanie Boo was released. It doesn't tell if it is current or retired. It doesn't tell if it is/was available only in stores or only online. So if you actually want to BUY a specific Beanie Boo, the only helpful information it gives you is its name.

You might be thinking, well, the book might not be helpful but surely the TY website would be. You'd be WRONG, WRONG, SUPER-WRONG. The website is CONFUSING and FRUSTRATING and doesn't follow any rhyme or reason. (Unless they've changed it since Christmas!!!) Though knowing the exact name would be helpful when searching the website.

What the book does contain are ADORABLE pictures of Beanie Boos. The Beanie Boos are arranged in alphabetical order.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 16, 2018

Poppleton in Winter

Poppleton in Winter. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2001. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Poppleton's house grew very long icicles in winter.

Premise/plot: This early chapter book starring Poppleton and friends features three stories: "Icicles," "The Bust," and "The Sleigh Ride." In the first story, Poppleton may love his icicles a little too much. What will happen when they fall?! In the second story, Poppleton decides to make something. Winter is his best time for making. This year, what he decides upon is making a bust of his friend Cherry Sue's head. If only he could remember what she looks like! In the third story, Poppleton's disappointment turns to joy as his friends surprise him on his birthday.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed Poppleton in Winter. I want to read all the Poppleton books now. I enjoy spending time with him and his friends. The stories are delightful and charming. My favorite in this collection was "The Sleigh Ride."

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Poppleton and Friends

Poppleton and Friends. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 1997. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Poppleton was tired of being landlocked. He wanted to go to the shore.

Premise/plot: Poppleton and Friends is the second book in the series by Cynthia Rylant. It is an early chapter book series. This one has three stories: "The Shore Day," "Dry Skin," and "Grapefruit." In the first story, Poppleton goes to the beach for the day. In the second story, Poppleton thinks he's suffering from dry skin. His friend, Cherry Sue, has plenty of advice for him. Can she solve the mystery of what is causing Poppleton's problem?! In the third story, Poppleton decides he wants to live a LONG, LONG life. Will eating grapefruit help him out?!

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED meeting Poppleton. I now want to read all the books in the series. I also loved meeting his friends. I would definitely recommend this one! 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers