Friday, December 8, 2017

Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat

Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cat! You lost a tooth! Did the Tooth Fairy come? She left you a coin! What's the matter? You wanted to meet her? Aw, Cat. I understand...

Premise/plot: A disappointed cat tricks the Tooth Fairy and is punished for his trickery by having to assist the Tooth Fairy on three jobs. If Cat does well, will a meeting with the Tooth Fairy be the result?!

My thoughts: I loved it. I did. I really did. I thought Cat was adorable. Yes, Cat was a bit naughty to want to trick the Tooth Fairy. Yes, Cat, had some not-so-nice thoughts about the Mouse who was also helping the Tooth Fairy. But I love Cat all the same!!! I also found myself loving the narrative. The narrative is all in second person, and, it worked for me really well. I think that's one of the reasons why I loved it so very much. I also LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Text: 10 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Here Comes The Easter Cat

Here Comes The Easter Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda.  2014.  80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: What's wrong, Cat? You look grumpy. The Easter Bunny? What about him? Well, of course everyone loves the Easter Bunny. Why? Because he's nice! He delivers chocolate eggs to millions of kids. It's a hard job. Don't be jealous. Why don't you be the Easter Cat?

Premise/plot: Cat is jealous of the Easter Bunny. He wants in on the action. Will the Easter Cat be competition for the Easter Bunny? Maybe, maybe not. The Easter Cat is a little too fond of naps and not so fond of hard work. But don't count him completely out. Easter Cat has a plan....

My thoughts: I enjoyed Deborah Underwood's Here Comes the Easter Cat. Cat is a lovable character who communicates mainly by signs and also body language. The illustrations are super expressive. Even children who can't read, can tell exactly what Cat is feeling at any given moment. The narrative tone is casual, conversational. I loved, loved, loved it.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Here Comes Valentine Cat

Here Comes Valentine Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2015. 88 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hey, Cat! Any Valentine's Day plans? This is a No-Valentines Zone? Why don't you like Valentine's Day, Cat? Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all mushy. Why don't you make a valentine for a friend?

Premise/plot: Here Comes Valentine Cat is one in a series of books starring Cat. In this one, Cat meets a new neighbor--a Dog. Will Dog prove to be a friend or foe? What kind of valentine should Cat make for Dog? A nice one? A mean one?

My thoughts: I love, love, love this series by Deborah Underwood. This one didn't disappoint. I'm so glad I encouraged my library to order it. (They already had the other books in the series.) I would definitely recommend the series to anyone and everyone who loves cats. I would also say that the book is a great example of narrative style. I love the conversational tone of the books.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

This Is My Book!

This Is My Book! Mark Pett. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: My name is Mark Pett, and THIS IS MY BOOK! I am the author, and that means I get to write all the words. I am also the illustrator, so I get to make all of the pictures, too. Here, I'll draw something. This is Percy the Perfectly Polite Panda. He's going to help me explain the rules of my book. "I prefer to be called Spike." I drew you. I get to name you.

Premise/plot: Once Mark draws SPIKE, the book ceases to be his book. Though I must say Mark fights valiantly for sole control throughout. Spike--and those Spike draws--soon have a say in the action and characterization. Who does this book really belong to?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I don't love metafiction for the sake of metafiction. But I happened to enjoy this one. (Though I'm not sure I enjoyed it more than Ryan T. Higgins' Be Quiet. I loved, loved, loved that book so much!!!) Spike is a super-fun character who loves the creative process of making a book. He disagrees with Mark on almost every page. I liked it best when Spike decided the book needed a flap and a pop-up.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way). Patrick McDonnell. 2017. Little, Brown. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee

Premise/plot: Using nothing but the alphabet, McDonnell tells the story of a little red cat who has a mighty, big adventure before returning home once more.  It stars a cat, an alligator, a bear, a dragon, a chicken, and an egg....

My thoughts: Technically, I'm not sure if this one would count as wordless or not. The only text within the book is the alphabet. The story is communicated nevertheless. This one has plenty of adventure and some guesswork. The only letter I had trouble translating back into a word to further the story was Ww. (Which was 'wave.') The other letters I was able to 'read' correctly in the context of the story. (Mostly). If I'm being 100% honest, I interpreted Nnnnnnnnnnnnn Ooooooooooo! as NO and not "no over." But either way the story made complete sense.

Text: 0 out of 0
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 4 out of 5

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Little Reindeer

The Little Reindeer. Nicola Killen. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve and Ollie had just gone to sleep when jingle, jingle, jingle she woke again with a start. What was that sound?

Premise/plot: A little girl--in reindeer pajamas--discovers a reindeer on Christmas Eve. A small adventure follows, and Christmas morning a souvenir of sorts is received as a gift.

My thoughts: I liked it. The story works well enough. Ollie is a cute heroine. I thought the illustrations were wonderful. It took several readings for me to see all the details in the illustrations and how they add to the story. This is one reindeer-obsessed heroine. Her pillow case, the art on her bedroom wall, the wallpaper of her bedroom, the book on her floor, her bookend, her chalk art, her stuffed animal that accompanies her on her adventure, and, of course, her pajamas.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pick a Pine Tree

Pick a Pine Tree. Patricia Toht. Illustrated by Jarvis. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pick a pine tree from the lot--slim and tall or short and squat. One with spiky needle clumps, scaly bark, or sappy bumps. Long, straight limbs or branches bent--mmm! Just smell that piney scent!

Premise/plot: A family picks a pine tree and takes it home to decorate for the Christmas season. The story is told through rhyme.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I do NOT like real trees. In fact, the idea of being in the same room with a real tree is terrifying because I'm so allergic. But I do love this cheerful story. The family has so much fun. Even the pet cat gets involved. It's hard not to like this one.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Norman The Slug with the Silly Shell

Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell. Sue Hendra. 2017. (2011 UK) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Norman the slug thought snails were great. "Wow!" said Norman. "Look at them! They're amazing! But unfortunately, the snails didn't think Norman was great. "Norman, you silly slug!" they cried. "You've spoiled our fun. This only works if you've got a shell." Norman felt left out. Sadly, he skulked off into the moonlight.

Premise/plot: Norman, the "hero" of the book, doesn't have a shell. At least not yet. This picture book shows him "finding" a very silly shell to wear when playing with the other slugs. But. There are consequences as well...when your shell is so tasty.

My thoughts:  I don't think I've reminded anyone--this week at least--that reading picture books is super subjective. You may love Norman. You may find him super-silly. You may laugh and giggle. I did not. I found it strange, but not ha ha strange.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Max at School

Max at School (Max and Ruby). Rosemary Wells. Illustrated by Andrew Grey. 2017. [Oct. 24] 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Max gives Mama a kiss. Ruby gives Papa a kiss. "Bye-bye," say Mama and Papa. "Bye-bye," say Ruby and Max. Mama and Papa wave. Ruby and Max wave. They hop on the bus. The big bus is yellow.

Premise/plot: It is Max's first day of school. I'm not sure if this is preschool or kindergarten. But a first day is a first day, right?! The book--in typical fashion--shows Max going through the routine of a school day.

My thoughts: I love Max and Ruby. (Ruby and Max). It's not unusual for me to be going around singing the Max and Ruby theme song. Recently, the show introduced Max and Ruby's parents. Before they had lived by themselves and only had a grandmother to check in on them now and then. The new episode(s) also featured Max saying more than one word per episode. Max had grown up a bit. This new reader--level two--reflects that. The text is simple, and there is something methodical about it.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Santa Claus Book

The Santa Claus Book. Eileen Daly. Illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship. 1972. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Santa's sleigh was piled high with toys. And Santa's list of boys and girls was so long that it made a curly tail behind the sleigh. "Ho-ho!" laughed Santa as the sleigh landed softly on a rooftop. "This is a good Christmas!" Down the chimney he went. He put a doll under the Christmas tree and a yellow truck beside the doll. At John's house, he left a train. And he put a surprise in the red caboose.

Premise/plot: Santa is going about his business one Christmas Eve when he happens upon a puppy, a lost puppy. Santa is determined to return the pup to his owner. So he takes the puppy with him on his toy deliveries. Will the puppy be reunited with his owner?

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  vintage books. You grow up with an image of what Santa looks like, and that is for you the real Santa. This Santa is "the real Santa." The Santa of all my childhood wrapping papers. The story is fine. I hope that the puppy does not make a mess in Santa's bag or in the boy's stocking.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 27, 2017

Here Comes Santa Cat

Here Comes Santa Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2014. 88 pages. [Source: Library]


First sentence: Hey, Santa! Have you seen Cat? Cat! I didn't even recognize you. Why are you dressed like Santa? So you can give yourself a present? Oh, Cat. Santa will bring you a present, won't he? No? Why not? Ah. I see your problem.

Premise/plot: Cat is worried that Santa will not bring him a present because he's been too naughty. It's Christmas Eve, and it's too late--isn't it--for him to start being nice enough to get on Santa's good list. Cat dresses up as Santa and attempts...well, he attempts many, many things! Will Cat's last minute efforts work? Will Cat get a Christmas present?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. Cat and his signs are just too adorable. I love how expressive the illustrations are. This Cat is just super-super lovable. He would be a handful to live with perhaps. But as a character in a book, he's ideal! I love the conversational text. The narrative text is something I'd call practically perfect in every way.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake

Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. (Mr. Putter & Tabby #3) Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 1994. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was wintertime. Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, sat at their window every night to watch the snow come down.

Premise/plot: Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake is the third book in the early chapter series by Cynthia Rylant. In the first chapter, readers learn that Mr. Putter and Tabby LOVE Christmas. They love giving Christmas presents. But Mr. Putter isn't sure what to give his neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, for Christmas. She loves fruitcake. Mr. Putter doesn't understand why a person would love fruitcake, would even like fruitcake. Cakes should not be able to break your toes. He decides he will bake her a cake for Christmas. In the second chapter, readers learn of all the obstacles standing in the way. "The cake was not a cinch. In the first place, Mr. Putter did not know how to bake a cake. He could bake instant muffins. He could bake instant popovers. But he had never baked a cake. He didn't know how. In the second place, Mr. Putter had no pans. He had muffin pans. He had popover pans. But he had no cake pans. If he baked a cake, it would have to be in a shoe. Or maybe in a flowerpot. Or even in a hat." The third obstacle: no cookbook. In the third chapter, Mr. Putter finds a solution to his problem. He will learn to bake a cake from Mary Sue. Mary Sue doesn't entirely seem trustworthy. She sells him $100 worth of STUFF though. "She sold Mr. Putter seven bowls. She sold Mr. Putter three sifters. She sold Mr. Putter ten spoons, five cups, two spatulas, a roll of waxed paper, and a Christmas tree pan. Then she sold him an Easy Baker cookbook and sent him out the door. Mr. Putter had spent one hundred dollars. And he still didn't have any flour." In the fourth and final chapter, Mr. Putter and Tabby get ready to bake. Will the cake turn out light and airy? Will Mrs. Teaberry enjoy the cake? Will this be a happy Christmas?

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one. It was FUN. It was MERRY. I am continuing to love this series. The writing is just delightful. Rylant knows how to craft an entertaining story. There is a lot of characterization packed in as well--a lot of showing and not telling.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, November 24, 2017

Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog

Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog (Mr. Putter & Tabby #2). Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 1994. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, lived next door to Mrs. Teaberry and her small dog, Zeke.

Premise/plot: Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog is the second book in the early chapter series by Cynthia Rylant. In the first chapter, Mr. Putter decides to help a neighbor for a week when she becomes unable to walk her dog. Mrs. Teaberry assures him that Zeke is a DREAM dog who never tugs, who never wraps around trees, who never chases other dogs. The second chapter opens with this sentence, "Zeke was a nightmare." The chapter chronicles the first three days. Zeke misbehaves; Mr. Putter and Tabby return EXHAUSTED and in need of treats. The first day: "When Mr. Putter and Tabby got home, they had to have some warm milk and pudding and a nap." The second day: "When Mr. Putter and Tabby got home, they had to have some warm milk and popovers and a nap." The third day: "When Mr. Putter and Tabby got home, they had to have some warm milk and shortbread and a nap." The third chapter chronicles the last four days; Mr. Putter and Tabby decide to approach walking the dog differently. They've resorted to bribery. Will Zeke be a dream dog if he's rewarded for good behavior?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. The writing was excellent. I loved the narrative style. Rylant is a great storyteller. I would definitely recommend this series. And treat yourself by beginning at the beginning.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Milly and the Macy's Parade

Milly and the Macy's Parade. Shana Corey. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2002. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was 1924, Milly's first year in America, and all over New York City people were hustling and bustling about getting ready for the holidays.

Premise/plot: Milly's father works at Macy's. She notices that her father and some of the other immigrants are homesick. She goes to Mr. Macy himself and suggests that they should have a parade where they march and sing and dress up to remind people of the old world they've left behind. The parade is a success, and he decides they should make the parade an annual affair.

My thoughts: This origin story of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is almost entirely fictional. The first parade was in 1924, that much is true at least. But there is no Milly. And Mr. Macy was several decades in his grave by then. The book does emphasize that this "American parade" was based on several different cultural elements. It was a variety of immigrant groups blending together--working together--that birthed this American tradition.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea (Mr. Putter & Tabby #1) Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 1994. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Before he got his fine cat, Tabby, Mr. Putter lived all alone.

Premise/plot: Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea is the first book in the Mr. Putter & Tabby early chapter series by Cynthia Rylant. In the first chapter, readers meet Mr. Putter. "He had warm muffins to eat. He had good tea to pour. And he had wonderful stories to tell. Mr. Putter was tired of living alone. Mr. Putter wanted a cat." In the second chapter, readers meet Tabby. Tabby is not a kitten; she is an old cat. "The shelter man brought Mr. Putter the old yellow cat. Its bones creaked, its fur was thinning, and it seemed a little deaf. Mr. Putter creaked, his hair was thinning, and he was a little deaf, too." In the third chapter, readers see these two living together happily. "After a while it seemed as if they had always lived together. Tabby knew just what Mr. Putter was going to do next. Mr. Putter knew just where Tabby was going to sleep next. In the mornings each looked for the other as soon as they opened their eyes. And at night each looked for the other as their eyes were closing. Mr. Putter could not imagine life without Tabby." It has a PERFECT ending.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I had read a few books in this series--those published the past few years--but never went back to the series beginning. It is a WONDERFUL book.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I'm Sorry

I'm Sorry. Gina Mayer and Mercer Mayer. 1995. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Whenever I do something wrong, I just say "I'm sorry."

Premise/plot: Little Critter is always careful to say, "I'm sorry." But he is definitely not always careful in the first place.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I didn't love, love, love it like I have other Little Critter titles. But it was definitely an enjoyable read. Little Critter can make a BIG, BIG, BIG mess. In this one, he learns--perhaps temporarily--that you have to be careful and considerate in the first place. Saying "I'm sorry" and then not changing your behavior shows you're not really that sorry.

This one reminded me of a Daniel Tiger song. Saying I'm sorry is the FIRST step, not the only step.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 20, 2017

This is the Kiss

This is the Kiss. Claire Harcup. Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: When you've had a fun day and you're ready for bed, this is the wave...and the squeeze of the hand...that led to the touch...that led to the smile...that led to the hands going round and round and round until...they started the tickle...

Premise/plot: This is the Kiss is a sweet picture book ideal for sharing at bedtime.

My thoughts: I really liked this one. I thought the bears were adorable! The text flows gently and predictably from cover to cover. All the action leads up to...you guessed it...a kiss, a good night kiss.
The edition I read was Scholastic's Story Play edition. This edition adds prompts for parents. Prompts like: "What is Little Bear building?" "With whom do you love holding hands?" "How are Little Bear and Big Bear feeling? How can you tell?" etc.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. Dr. Seuss. 1978. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I can read in red. I can read in blue. I can read in pickle color too.

Premise/plot: The Cat in the Hat is back in Dr. Seuss' I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. In this one, he's showing off--classic Cat style--about how great a reader he is.

My thoughts: I enjoy this one very much. I do agree that "you have to be a speedy reader 'cause there's so, so much to read." With such fun and silly phrases as: "You can read about anchors. And all about ants. You can read about ankles! And crocodile pants!" this one is just a delight.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 16, 2017

88 Instruments

88 Instruments. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Louis Thomas. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 88! That's how many pounding, surrounding, astounding-mound-of-sounding instruments are in this shop. But...I can take lessons on only one. Not 75, or 64, or 33, or 12. "One," says Dad. "For now," says Mom. "Your pick!" says Dad. "Within reason," says Mom. How am I supposed to pick just one? Do I pick the squeeziest? The wheeziest?

Premise/plot: The narrator of 88 Instruments is having a tough time deciding on ONE instrument from the music shop. What instrument should he learn to play first? One thing is for certain, he is going to look at ALL of his options and not just pick the first thing he sees.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I loved the descriptive language. I loved the dialogue. It worked really well, in my opinion. I loved the passion and enthusiasm. Which technically I suppose you'd call the narrative voice. I thought Barton did great at capturing that magic moment.
plink! It's so clear. PLUNK. So right. PLUNNNNNNNNK! So right for me. I'm going to learn the plinkiest...the plunkiest...and, here to there, the spunkiest--the PIANO!
The illustrations are nearly (but not quite) as expressive as the text.

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



© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where Teddy Bears Come From

Where Teddy Bears Come From. Mark Burgess. Illustrated by Russell Ayto. 2009. Peachtree Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In the middle of a deep, dark forest, all the creatures were fast asleep except for a little gray wolf, who tossed and turned and couldn't sleep a wink.

Premise/plot: Little Wolf is having trouble sleeping. He thinks he may have a solution: a teddy bear. But WHERE DO TEDDY BEARS COME FROM?! He asks his mother first. But when she doesn't know he's off on a quest in the deep, dark forest to ask just about everyone his question. Who will know the answer?!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I loved all the fairy tale twists and turns. Little Wolf asks The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, and others his all-important question. Will Little Wolf get his teddy bear?!

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Aristocats: A Counting Book

The Aristocats: A Counting Book. Walt Disney Productions Presents. 1970. Whitman Tell-a-Tale Book. 26 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: 1 One lovely mother cat sitting in the sun, purring purrs, licking fur--ONE, ONE, ONE. Her name is Duchess. 2 Here's a little lady kitten singing songs for you, singing with her mother cat--TWO, TWO, TWO. Her name is Marie. 3 Well, look! A brother kitten comes to practice with Marie while Duchess helps them learn the tunes--THREE, THREE, THREE. His name is Berlioz. Another brother kitten's here, painting on the floor, painting all his family--FOUR, FOUR, FOUR. Toulouse is his name.

Premise/plot: This counting book features the stars of the Disney movie Aristocats. The retelling is a bit forced in places since it is a COUNTING book and not a regular story book. And this retelling also isn't true to the movie!

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, CRAZY LOVE the movie Aristocats. When I saw this book, I had to have it.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 13, 2017

Julius

Julius. Syd Hoff. (An I Can Read Book) 1959. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Davy went to Africa. His father was going to catch an animal for the circus.

Premise/plot: Mr. Smith is looking to bring back an animal for the circus. His son, Davy, is there to help. In fact, it is Davy who finds Julius, a gorilla, who is super-excited about belonging to the circus. But is circus life really for Julius?

My thoughts: This book is dated. I'd even say incredibly super-dated--for better or worse. It is exactly what you'd expect a book written in the 1950s to be like in terms of depicting Africans, wild animals, and those who hunt them. In this case, the hunt is about finding a new circus animal. (It could just as easily been about finding a new zoo animal.)

The animals depicted look cartoon-ish whether than realistic. This isn't a bad thing, in my opinion, since Hoff has the rejected animals muttering, "Some animals have all the luck." Realism isn't to be found in Julius.

What you get is an over-the-top silly story. A gorilla who is civilized, who probably has better table manners than most children. This gorilla isn't taken from Africa against his will. He volunteers and is excited. "The men carried Julius through the woods. Sometimes Julius gave the men a rest." On one page, he's in the cage. In the next, he's carrying the men in a cage.

Still, silly or not, realistic or not, Davy spends half the book carrying a gun. This book also features a clown or two.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Took My Frog to the Library

I Took My Frog to the Library. Eric A. Kimmel. Illustrated by Blanche Sims. 1990. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I took my frog to the library, but he jumped on the checkout desk and scared the librarian. I took my hen to the library, but she laid an egg in the card catalog.

Premise/plot: Bridgett loves, loves, loves to go to the library. So do her animals. The librarian isn't so happy to see the animals. Can Bridgett find a way to make her animals AND the librarian happy?

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I love stories that follow a pattern. That is I love picture books and early readers that follow a pattern. The pattern here, of course, is "I took my _____ to the library, but _________________." I think parents and teachers could take advantage of the silliness and have little ones write their own stories. And the stories wouldn't even have to be only about the library.

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


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Log and Admiral Frog

The Log and Admiral Frog. B. Wiseman. 1961. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence:  Two frogs saw a log floating toward them. At least it looked like a log.

Premise/plot: Sometimes a log is not a log. Sometimes diplomacy fails--at least when you send a rabbit. Sometimes what you need is an Admiral Frog. Admiral Frog brings all sorts of animals together as a team and teaches them how to defend themselves against this enemy--this log. Turtles. Fish. Small birds. Big birds. Beavers. Skunks. Or are they navy ships, submarines, jets, bombers, and tear gas? Will the log surrender?

My thoughts: It was interesting. I'm not sure yet if it's good interesting. It begins with two frogs reporting to everyone what they've seen. A log that tried to eat them. An old rabbit says that they all just need to talk to the frog. He's confident that they can be friends with the log. The others doubt him, but give him a chance. The frog that does end up leading them is a "young frog nobody knew." His FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT mentality ends up being exactly what they need.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Erin McGuire. 2017. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Many see Time as a friend, and many see Time as a foe. But for a sleeping beauty, Time was a promise.

Premise/plot: Cynthia Rylant retells the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, in a new picture book beautifully illustrated by Erin McGuire. The story is a traditional retelling.

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I don't love the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, though I do enjoy the use of Tchaikovsky's music. I loved that there wasn't a villain (or villainess) to fight. When the hundred years was over, the Prince came as if by instinct, and the thorns and briars parted to allow him through. He kissed her hand, and she awoke. I loved the ending, "Life returned to the sleeping palace, where happiness had always been waiting. It just took Time." Beautifully stated, right?!?!

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen. Lucinda McQueen. 1985. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a little red hen who shared her tiny cottage with a goose, a cat, and a dog.

Premise/plot: This is a traditional telling of The Little Red Hen illustrated by Lucinda McQueen.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I like the illustrations very much. I particularly love the illustrations of the cat and the dog. The text is traditional. There are no big surprises with the text. The Little Red Hen doesn't have a change of heart, she doesn't decide to share with the cat and the dog.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lambert The Sheepish Lion

Lambert The Sheepish Lion. Bill Peet. Walt Disney Company. 1970/1977. 42 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Mr. Stork was having a busy night. He had to deliver bundles of babies to all kinds of places. As he flew over the trees, Mr. Stork was glad he had just one bundle left.

Premise/plot: Mr. Stork is delivering new lambs to a sheep meadow. One sheep had no new lamb to welcome. Not until Mr. Stork shook out the bag and Lambert tumbled out. But this little lamb didn't look like the others--and he meowed?! The bond between mother and child was strong though from the start. When Mr. Stork tries to "correct" his mistake, he learns that a mother's love can be fierce. Later readers will see that a son's love can be just as fierce.

My thoughts: I love, love, love, love, love, crazy love Lambert the Sheepish Lion. I have since I was a child. I want to say we had this on record? or record story book? It's a fun Disney short, well worth watching again and again and again and again. The book is definitely a keeper.

This is a very personal story for me. Not only did I love it as a child, I could identify with it strongly. And still can.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, November 6, 2017

Paul's Christmas Birthday

Paul's Christmas Birthday. Carol Carrick. Illustrated by Donald Carrick. 1978. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was the middle of December. All the children in Paul's class were talking about Christmas.

Premise/plot: Paul was born on December 24. He doesn't like having his birthday so close to Christmas. He doesn't feel like his birthday is special--all the focus is on Christmas instead. So his mom decides to have a birthday party and invite all the kids in Paul's class. The invitation promises a visit by a MAN FROM OUTER SPACE. Maybe the kids come because they really like Paul; maybe the kids come because their parents see it as free babysitting so they can go shopping; maybe the kids come because they're curious about how Paul knows an alien. Regardless of why--they come.

My thoughts: Paul's Christmas Birthday is a sad, pitiful, strange book. Imagine a book about birthdays, or a book about Christmas illustrated in these colors: orange, yellow-brown, brown-brown, light and dark gray, and peach. Nothing merry or bright. Paul is--temporarily at least--depressed and out of sorts. The whole man-from-outer-space thing is just weird--beyond weird really. The visitor is none other than Santa. This confuses the children greatly. As it did me.



 I will say this. I do like the illustrations, just not the colors. If the mom had gone with "special guest" or "special visitor" instead of MAN FROM OUTER SPACE, the text might have worked for me better.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, November 3, 2017

Too Many Cats

Too Many Cats. Leah Raechel Killen. 1988. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Peter's father has a store. It is called Farfel's Food Store. Peter helps his father in the store. There are so many things to do. Every day, Peter takes out the trash. He puts it in a big can by the back door. One day, Peter got a big surprise. A cat was sitting next to the big can. The cat smelled bits of food in the can. He wanted to get into the can. He wanted to eat the food.

Premise/plot: Peter finds a cat; he names him Sam. Peter feeds Sam every day. But Sam never comes alone. Sam has FRIENDS. One day, Peter leaves the store door open, will the cats go into the store and cause a ruckus?! How will Peter ever get ALL those cats out of the store? Is he hiding some cat-herding skills?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. It did start off slow. But when the cats go into the store, the action begins. Is it realistic? Probably not. I'm guessing that giving away free cats wouldn't be all that easy. But it was fun.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, November 2, 2017

School Bus

School Bus. Donald Crews. 1984. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Yellow school buses large and small. Empty yellow buses cross the town. STOP. GO. Going this way. Going that way. Here it comes. See you later. Full buses head for school.

Premise/plot: Donald Crews gives us a day in the life of a school bus. The book comes full circle, beginning and ending with empty buses gone 'home again' in a parking lot.

My thoughts: This book is very yellow. It doesn't have the same rhythm and rhyme thing going for it as Freight Train does. Nor is it really a concept book like Freight Train was. (Freight Train is about COLORS.) The language is simple. I think little ones could definitely learn to read this one.

The art is simple, perhaps a little too simple. It does give us a diverse group of people waiting for buses, riding the buses, getting off the buses, etc.  While there could be some pros perhaps to having all the humans lack facial features, I prefer faces.

I'm not sure I'd call this book "dandy entertainment" like Publishers Weekly did back in the day. In fact, I doubt I've used the word DANDY even once in one of my reviews.

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


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I Was So Mad

I Was So Mad. Mercer Mayer. 1983. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I wanted to keep some frogs in the bathtub but Mom wouldn't let me. I was so mad. I wanted to play with my little sister's dollhouse but Dad wouldn't let me. I was so mad. I wanted to play hide-and-seek in the clean sheets but Grandma said, "No, you can't." I was just so mad.

Premise/plot: Little Critter is having one of those days. He can't do anything that he wants to do. And the list of things he wants to do is LONG. Rejecting his parents list of things he could do instead, he decides to run away...after packing up a hefty supply of cookies...but will his friends' invitation to play ball change his mind?

My thoughts: I love, love, love Little Critter. I do. This book is fun. Little Critter's list of things he wants to do is quirky. Some readers can probably relate to. Others, maybe not so much. For example, one of the things he wants to do is TICKLE the goldfish.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Machines at Work

Machines at Work. Byron Barton. 1987. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hey, you guys! Let's get to work. Knock down that building. Bulldoze that tree. Dig up that road.

Premise/plot: It's not just machines at work in Byron Barton's Machines at Work. Little ones also see construction workers working hard all day.

My thoughts: It doesn't take a lot of words to tell a good story. Though though are just a few words per page, Barton's Machines at Work tells an enjoyable story. The illustrations are also super-simple. In a few illustrations, the construction workers reminded me of duplo people. Speaking of which, this would be a fun story to act out with duplos!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Hole Story

The Hole Story. Paul Bright. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: In a land of strange happenings, far, far away, lived two holes, Hamish and Hermione. Their home was a chunk of Swiss cheese, on a plate, in the kitchen, in the royal palace. One day, a family of mice came along and ate all the cheese. The cook chased the mice away, but now the two holes had nowhere to live.

Premise/plot: Hamish and Hermione are looking for a new place to live. These holes have some rough times ahead of them. Because NO ONE wants these two holes around. Places they try to move include: the king's sock, the queen's knickers, the princess's bicycle tire, the prince's row boat. Will these two EVER find a place to live?

My thoughts: Love odd books? You should really pick up The Hole Story. Readers meet a King and Queen and their family, but the ones that really steal the show, are two little holes. For the right reader, I think this one will be pure delight. But not every reader will be the right reader. Alas, this is the case with every book. It is unique, you have to give it that. How many other books about holes do you know?

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 27, 2017

I Won't Eat That

I Won't Eat That. Christopher Silas Neal. 2017. [November] Candlewick Press. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dogs eat dog food. Fish eat fish food. But I'm a cat, and I will NOT eat cat food. It's dry and dull and not very yummy. Yuck. But if I don't eat cat food, what will I eat?

Premise/plot: The cat in Christopher Silas Neal's I Won't Eat That is a very picky eater. He knows one thing: cat food is not for him. But what is the right food for him? Cat goes around asking all sorts of animals what they eat. He rejects their answers one by one. Too wiggly. Too bouncy. Too boring. Will Cat find his answer?

My thoughts: I liked this one. Picky eating isn't necessarily a new subject in picture books. But it feels right for a cat to be picky about what he/she eats. Is this one completely realistic?! Perhaps not. I don't know what kind of neighborhood Cat lives in, but his quest takes him to a fox, a lion, a whale, a chimp, a turtle, and an elephant! Certainly not the animals you'd expect.

The twist. I kept expecting a twist. I had a feeling that Cat would ask the wrong animal what they ate. I did NOT want to see curiosity killing the cat. That is NOT the case. But Cat's not the only animal asking questions. And curiosity ends up killing someone....

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Quilt Story

The Quilt Story. Tony Johnston. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 1985. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: A little girl's mother made the quilt to keep her warm when the snow came down, long ago. She stitched the quilt by a yellow flame, humming all the time. She stitched the tails of falling stars. And she stitched the name, Abigail.

Premise/plot: This book is a story of a quilt. The picture book opens with the quilt's creation. The picture book closes with the quilt's recreation. In between, readers meet two different girls who love, love, love the quilt; girls who take comfort from the quilt. In between, readers see different mothers fixing and repairing the quilt as needed. 

My thoughts: I really loved this one. When the quilt was put in the attic and forgotten, I admit I was SAD. I didn't want the quilt to be found and used by MICE. I didn't want the mice to eat it. I was so happy when the quilt was rediscovered by a new generation. I'm guessing it was several generations removed from the original owner. I don't know if a quilt is really as easy to repair as this picture book makes it appear.

This picture book reminded me of an Alice Walker short story, Everyday Use. Adults who read and enjoy The Quilt Story should read it.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

If You See A Kitten

If You See A Kitten. John Butler. 2002. Peachtree. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: If you see a cuddly kitten...say, "Ahhh!" If you see a pudgy pig...say, "Peee-ew!" If you see a dozing dormouse...say, "Shhh!" If you see some slimy slugs...say, "Yuck!" If you see a pretty peacock...say, "Oooh!"

Premise/plot: John Butler's If You See A Kitten introduces animals and emotions to the very young. I suppose that is as good a premise as I can do.

My thoughts: I'll start with what I love: I REALLY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the kitten illustrations on the cover, the title page, and the second spread. Actually, the illustrations are far preferable to the text. I really enjoyed how realistic most of them were. In particular the kitten, the pig, the elephant, and the alligator.

What I liked: I think that parents or teachers could take the basic pattern of this one and have children write and draw their own books.

If you see a kitten....
If you see a puppy....
If you see a friend....
If you see a rainbow....
If you see a cookie...

What I didn't quite love: I wasn't sure why the author wanted little ones to react in specific ways to the animals. I, for one, thought the pig was nearly as adorable as the kitten. Of all the animals presented, only four had positive reactions modeled: the kitten, the dormouse, the peacock, and the elephant.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Big Cat

Big Cat. Ethan Long. 2016. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Big Cat can nap.

Premise/plot: Big Cat is an I Like To Read book published by Holiday House. It features two siblings: a brother and a sister. Both LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to play with "Big" Cat. Does Big Cat love to play with them too?!

My thoughts: The text is simple and a bit repetitive. Some sentences repeat. But the text combined with the illustrations make for one great entertaining story. The text tells a simple story. The illustrations tell a whole other story. They add humor and some depth to the story. The text perhaps tells the story from the point of view of the children. The illustrations perhaps tell the story from the point of view of the CAT. Illustrations are a big part of reading and learning to read.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 23, 2017

Babies Can Sleep Anywhere

Babies Can Sleep Anywhere. Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Carolin Buzio. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Puppy dogs sleep in a pile on a rug. Kitty cats snooze in a chair. A turtle tucks into his shell nice and snug. But babies can sleep anywhere.

Premise/plot: This picture book is a poem in disguise. There are a lot of animals in this one--sleeping animals. Each animal introduced sleeps somewhere special. But the refrain remains the same throughout: But babies can sleep anywhere. The illustrations give us just a few examples of where babies might sleep.

My thoughts: Can babies sleep anywhere? Probably. Will babies sleep anywhere? That might depend on YOUR baby. In fact, there might be new parents out there asking: Do babies sleep at all?! Babies don't always sleep when you want, where you want, for as long as you want. But one fact remains: BOOKS and BABIES belong together. It's never too early to start reading to your little one. And the rhythm and rhyme of this one makes it a good choice.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Board book: I'm Sunny

I'm Sunny. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is Sunny. What makes you happy?

Premise/plot: I'm Sunny introduces the characters Sunny and Tizzy. (Tizzy is a tornado who stars in his own book, I'm Silly!) What makes Sunny happy? A balloon--a red one. Everything is going okay until Tizzy wants a turn with the balloon. Sunny does not want to share. Will these two work it out?

My thoughts: I liked it okay. I enjoyed the other books in the 'My First Comics' series more. But it wasn't bad. I would recommend reading all four books. This one on its own, well, it isn't the most thrilling book. But introduced as part of a set, and it might make a better impression. 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 20, 2017

Board book: I'm Grumpy

I'm Grumpy. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is Grumpy Cloud. Why are you so grumpy?

Premise/plot: Grumpy Cloud is grumpy. There are reasons, but, not reasons that cheery people like Sunny can understand. Sunny tries--and fails--to cheer up Grumpy. The harder Sunny tries to make Grumpy happy, the angrier Grumpy gets. The result? Thunder. Will Grumpy and Sunny make up after their fight?

My thoughts: I liked it. It was easy to relate to Grumpy's bad day. I can understand why Sunny's good intentions ended up failing. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a grumpy person is to give them space--plenty of space. That being said, Grumpy does a very nice thing to try to make it up to Sunny. This is one in a series of four books called My First Comics. I'd recommend the whole series. 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Imagine That!

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat. Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: 1954 was a great year to be a kid. There were five-cent doughnuts and one-cent lollipops. Rock and roll had just hit the record shops. Bookstores brimmed with exciting new books, like Charlotte's Web, The Lord of the Rings, and Horton Hears a Who! 1954 was a great year to be a kid, unless you were trying to learn how to read.

Premise/plot: Imagine That tells the dual story of how Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat and the Hat (and Green Eggs and Ham) and  also how beginning readers got their start in the publishing world. The problem facing teachers--and parents--in 1954 was this: School readers were too boring--nobody wanted to read them. Therefore kids were struggling to transition from reading a few words to reading whole books. Dr Seuss was given a list of 236 words to use to write this new book, this beginning reader. Was he up to the challenge?
 
My thoughts: It is hard for me to imagine a world without beginning readers. I think my favorite thing about this one was that it showed the creative writing process.
Ted pondered how kids learned to read. He had a hunch that easy rhymes and funny drawings would help them guess the words they didn't know. He used tricks to coax readers to turn the pages. For example, he put the word BUMP in huge letters at the top-right edge of page five. What made that BUMP sound? Kids had to turn the page to find out. 
I enjoyed the illustrations. I loved the blend of new illustrations showing Dr. Seuss hard at work but also highlighting Seuss' classic illustrations.



© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Found Dogs

Found Dogs. Erica Sirotich. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 1 dog, long and low. 2 dogs, silver and slow. 3 dogs, quivering, shivering. 4 dogs, dressed for snow.

Premise/plot: Found Dogs is set at a city shelter. First readers count from one to ten meeting all the shelter dogs. Then readers count backwards from ten as each dog is adopted and finds a forever family.

My thoughts: I liked it. I did. If you're a dog lover, then I think this would be a good choice to share with little ones. I think it would make a good read aloud. It rhymes. The language is quite descriptive as well.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Follow The Track All The Way Back

Follow the Track All The Way Back. Timothy Knapman. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Today was a big day for Little Train. He was going out on the track all by himself for the very first time!

Premise/plot: Little Train's first day of independence leads to new adventures. But will Little Train remember how to get back home at the end of the day?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I am always glad to see new train books published. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. New train books mean a possible break from reading old train books, beloved old train books. The illustrations are wonderful in this one. The story is predictable. The title says it all. But predictable isn't always a bad thing. There are only so many things a train on a track can do.

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


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, October 16, 2017

World Pizza

World Pizza. Cece Meng. Illustrated by Ellen Shi. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The tall hill with the cherry trees and the soft grass for chairs was the best place to look for a wishing star. Mama found such a star, the first to be seen in more than one hundred years. It was not the brightest nor the biggest in the sky that night, but it was still a true wishing star. So Mama made her wish. "I wish for world peace-ah...ahh...ahh-CHOO!" said Mama.

Premise/plot: When Mama wishes for world peace, her sneeze interrupts the wish. Her wish does come true, but not exactly in the way she expects. Will a pizza for every family usher in world peace?!

My thoughts: This is a gimmick-driven picture book. Who would ever admit to wishing for something besides world peace though?! The Mama pictures world peace as "a world filled with kindness and love and no fighting." By the end of the book the fact that every single person "ate until their bellies were full and everyone was happy" brought about a "world filled with kindness and love and no fighting." I also found this one to be a little too wordy.

I found the book to have a ridiculous premise. The foundation of it is shaky at best. Can families even agree among themselves on pizza? For example, there's the question of crust: thin, hand-tossed, deep dish. Then there's the question of toppings. It can be difficult for even two people to agree on toppings--let alone a whole family. How many families have picky eaters?!

I also struggle to see pizza uniting the world because not every one can eat pizza. Not every one can eat wheat; not every one can eat cheese; not every one can eat tomatoes. Not everyone *should* eat pizza either. But that's a whole other subject, isn't it: eating healthy.

In this book, to be fair, no person is given a choice in the pizza. The pizza falls from the sky, lands where it wills, and it is what it is. You don't have a choice in toppings or crust. You also don't have a say as to if the pizza falls on you directly--or the ground, a car, a tree. I don't know about you--but even if I could eat pizza (I can't) I wouldn't eat one that had landed on the grass, on the sidewalk, on the street, on a car, on a bush or tree, on anything really. I don't think the "five second rule" would really come into play as far as I'm concerned.

I'm imagining a pizza landing right in front of me. And it would not make me happy if I couldn't eat it. The universe would be teasing me. Why couldn't the star deliver pizzas world-wide in a box?!

Also, keeping it practical. If world peace is established on full bellies, what happens when those full bellies are empty. If there's one thing you can rely on--it's the fact that no matter how much you stuff yourself, you will be hungry again. Or HONgry. I couldn't think of a shallower foundation for world peace than a full belly.

One last note, one of my favorite Garfield episodes features Garfield trying to force the Buddy Bears to fight. (Oh, we are the buddy bears we always get along...) He breaks these friends apart with pizza.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Not Quite Narwhal

Not Quite Narwhal. Jessie Sima. 2017. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Kelp was born deep in the ocean. He knew early on that he was different from the other narwhals. His tusk wasn't as long as everyone else's, he had different tastes in food, and he wasn't a very good swimmer. But his friends didn't seem to mind, so Kelp decided he wouldn't either.

Premise/plot: Kelp, the hero of Jessica Sima's Not Quite Narwhal, is a unicorn being raised by narwhals. Of course, he doesn't know he's really a unicorn. And he meets other unicorns almost by accident. He thinks they are land narwhals. Does Kelp belong in the sea or on land? Which family does he really belong to?

My thoughts: It was okay. I know that there are hundreds of reviews saying this is the best book ever. But me, I didn't feel it. I liked it okay. Perhaps I would have loved it if I had a special "love" for unicorns?

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


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, October 13, 2017

His Royal Highness, King Baby

His Royal Highness, King Baby: A Terrible True Story. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2017. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there was a happy family: a mom, a dad, a gerbil, and the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever-so-kindest Princess with long, flowing wondrous hair. (In fact, actually she is ME!)

Premise/plot: A big sister hates her new baby brother. Will these two ever be friends?

My thoughts: I liked this one. The focus is on two siblings. We have the big sister princess who goes from being the center of attention to an orphan servant girl, from her perspective. We have the baby brother, the "King Baby," who undeservedly takes all the attention even though he is horrible and boring and obnoxious, from her perspective. Readers always know exactly what this princess is thinking by paying attention to her ART. (Children may get the giggles by all the drawings of baby bottoms and POOP).

Speaking of art, in addition to the sister's art throughout we have the illustrations by David Roberts. I would hope Roberts' illustrations place this book firmly in the 1970s. Or else there's no excuse for this royal family's taste. I think my favorite thing is that the Princess' long, flowing hair is in reality a pair of hose. In every single picture, this child is wearing HOSE on her head. (To play a fairy, she switches to green tights.)

Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of the illustrations. On the one hand, they are not my style at all. All the characters have rosy cheeks, for example, and none of the characters look attractive (passably attractive.) On the other hand, the characters do have this over-the-top vintage vibe going for them. And the CLOTHES are out of sight.

Back to the text, this one is very wordy and descriptive. This one would probably be better for K-2 than for younger preschool. (Unless your child is gifted with a long attention span).

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in the Secret Ingredient

Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in the Secret Ingredient. Lauren McLaughlin. Illustrated by Debbie Ohi. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective, was playing with her friend Max. They had already investigated Mommy's shoe closet; spied on Daddy, who was on the phone with someone named "Work"...and searched for evidence under Baby Kev's crib. It was a slow day. Until snack time rolled around.

Premise/plot: Mitzi is just about to take a bite of a muffin--a homemade muffin--when her friend, Max warns her of danger. Muffins can hide SECRET ingredients: ingredients like vegetables. Max should know. He's accidentally eaten foods with HIDDEN spinach. So Mitzi takes his advice seriously. In fact, the muffin becomes her next case. Can Mitzi use her skills--and the skills of her neighbors in the apartment building--to find out the truth? Did Mitzi's dad try to sneak a vegetable in a tasty-looking muffin?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I liked some of the details that came through in the illustrations. I like that Mitzi and Max are playing tent, for example. I liked that Gigi Gaboo (the doll) accompanies Mitzi everywhere. I thought Bun Bun was super adorable.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Peppa Pig and the Library Visit

Peppa Pig and the Library Visit. Candlewick. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's bedtime for Peppa and George. "Could we have a story, please?" asks Peppa. "Okay," says Mummy Pig. "Here's the one about the red monkey." "We always read that one," says Peppa. "The red monkey takes a bath, brushes his teeth, and goes to sleep. Let's choose another book instead."

Premise/plot: Peppa Pig and the Library Visit is a book based on an episode of the Peppa Pig show. In this episode, the family visits the library to return Daddy Pig's VERY overdue library book, The World of Concrete. While there, Peppa Pig picks out three new books to take home. One of them features the Red Monkey having ADVENTURES.

My thoughts: I really love, love, love some episodes of Peppa Pig. This one is a great episode. It makes sense to turn it into a book. I don't equally love all the Peppa Pig books. Some are quite honestly a bit on the boring side. But this one isn't. This one is entertaining for the most part. I would consider it a must if your little one loves all things Peppa.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers