Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Two Mutch Sisters

The Two Mutch Sisters. Carol Brendler. Illustrated by Lisa Brown. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The Mutch sisters were collectors. It started when they were very little girls. First there were two toy teapots. One for Ruby, one for Violet. As the sisters grew, so did their collection....

Premise/plot: The Mutch sisters have TOO much stuff. At least one sister thinks so. Ruby, not so much. One day she has had ENOUGH. She's ready for a change. What will Violet do next....?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It is a unique story. Usually when senior citizens appear in picture books, they show up as grandpas and grandmas. The focus is still mostly on the kid. But in this one, we have two heroines--a pair of sisters. And the focus is on their habits, their hoarding behaviors.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Squash and a Squeeze

A Squash and a Squeeze. Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. 1993/2004/2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A little old lady lived all by herself with a table and chairs and a jug on the shelf. A wise old man heard her grumble and grouse, "There's not enough room in my house. Wise old man, won't you help me please? My house is a squash and a squeeze."

Premise/plot: Will the 'little old lady' learn a valuable lesson when she takes advice from the 'wise old man'?!

My thoughts: I really like this one. I remember hearing a similar story on Between the Lions back in the day. I enjoyed the rhythm and rhyme of it.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, February 16, 2018

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. Laurel Snyder. Illustrated by Emily Hughes. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There was a knock. At the door. There was a knock at the door! It was Grumpy! "GRUMPY!"

Premise/plot: Charlie and Mouse are back for a second set of adventures. This early chapter book stars two lovable brothers and their grandpa, GRUMPY. The chapters are "Medium," "Pouncing," "Songs," and "Good-bye." In the first story, Mouse explains that he's "medium." He's bigger than he was--small--but he's not big like his brother.
"What is it like being medium?"
"When you are medium," said Mouse, "you can read some books. But also, people read books to you."
"What else?" asked Grumpy.
Mouse thought again.
"When you are medium, you can swim. But your mom sits on the steps and watches. Just in case."
"Ahh," said Grumpy. "It sounds very nice to be medium."
"It is," said Mouse.
"And how many hot dogs can you eat?" asked Grumpy. "When you are medium?"
"You can still eat three hot dogs," Mouse said. "But not with mustard. Mustard is not medium."
"That makes sense," said Grumpy.
 In the second story, Charlie and Mouse try to POUNCE Grumpy--but it's hard catching him asleep, or is it?! In the third story, Grumpy tries to put Charlie and Mouse to bed, but he's singing the wrong bedtime songs. In the fourth story, it is sadly time for Grumpy to go home from his visit. Even the blankets are sad.

My thoughts: I love, love, love, love, love, CRAZY love the Charlie and Mouse books. MORE PLEASE. I love the characters. I love the writing. I love the stories. I love the pacing. I love EVERYTHING.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Buster and the Baby

Buster and the Baby. Amy Hest. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. 2017. [October 24, 2017] Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Thump, thump, thump. In the little red house, a dog ducks under the table.

Premise/plot: Thus begins one of the most perfectly-perfect picture books I've read this year. Buster and the Baby is a DELIGHTFUL action-packed adventure story. During the day, Buster hides and the baby finds and chases him; he loves it. These two are a perfect pair. But at night, well, she's tucked into bed...and it's his turn to "find" her.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, CRAZY-LOVED this one. I loved the characters.  I love the writing. I loved the repetition. I loved the rhythm. I loved the pacing. I loved the JOY.
Out of the shadows she comes. Squealing and whirling and bumping his nose! Go, Buster. Go, Buster. Go, Buster, go! He wriggles behind the chair. Behind the blue chair is a good place to hide. (Maybe). He waits. And watches. And waits some more. Thump, goes his heart. Thump, thump, thump! Then... 
I loved the illustrations as well. Polly Dunbar has illustrated some of my favorite books.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Gorilla Did It

The Gorilla Did It. Barbara Shook Hazen. Illustrated by Ray Cruz. 1974. 32 pages. [Source: Childhood copy]

First sentence: Shhh! Go away. I can't play. I'm sleeping. Okay. But you've got to be quiet, or Mommy'll be mad.

Premise/plot: A little boy gets into trouble, but it's NOT his fault. The gorilla did it. Really. Or did he?!
Who made this mess?
The gorilla did it.
What gorilla?
The gorilla on my bike....
He didn't mean to.
It was an accident.
Just look! There's food all over the floor and grape juice under the radiator, and all your clean clothes are a sight! Don't tell me a gorilla did all this while you were sound asleep.
I wasn't asleep. He wouldn't let me. 
My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED this book as a kid. I consider it one of my prized possessions. And I always feel better when I know where it is. The illustrations date this one a bit. I think books from this era can be spotted practically a mile away. But I love it just as much as ever. Even if I do want to give the characters a makeover. The illustrations are in black and white except for the gorilla which is printed in blue. 

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shake the Tree

Shake the Tree. Chiara Vignocchi. Paolo Chiarinotti. Silvia Borando. 2018. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: Mouse spots a nut. "Mmm," she says. "I'm going to gobble that up!" So she shakes the tree a little to the right...shake...and a little to the left. Shake, shake. Uh-oh.

Premise/plot: Shake the Tree is an interactive picture book originally published in Italy in 2015. The 'bells and whistles' of this one are provided by the imagination of the readers--parent and child. In this one, a mouse sets out to shake a delicious nut out of the tree. That isn't exactly what happens when she starts shaking the tree.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I can't say that I loved it as much as Silvia Borando's The Cat Book or The Dog Book by Lorenzo Clerici--both books in this same "Minibombo" series. But it's worth checking out of the library and sharing with your little ones. They may love it and want it again, again!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, February 12, 2018

Make & Play Easter

Make and Play Easter. Joey Chou. Nosy Crow. 2018. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Easter is such a wonderful time of year!

Premise/plot: Make and Play Easter is a novely book for preschoolers. It includes sixteen pages of press out pieces to assemble and play with. Included are four children, bunnies, ducks, chickens, and sheep. (Also two enormously out-of-proportion-with-the-rest-of-the-set butterflies.) In addition to the press-out play pieces, it suggest seven Easter-themed activities that parents and children can do together. The activities range from simple--singing "Hot Cross Buns"--to more complex activities like making cupcakes and cookies or decorating Easter eggs.

My thoughts: This is a secular Easter book. For better or worse. For those looking to keep Easter focused on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is a distraction at best. There are plenty of people who would enjoy the book, however. Easter is both a sacred holiday and a secular one. Much like Christmas.

I enjoyed the two Make and Play books on Christmas more than this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers