Thursday, September 21, 2017

Nighty-Night, Cooper

Nighty-Night, Cooper. Laura Numeroff. 2013. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cooper climbed out of his mama's warm pouch. Dressed in his jammies, he lay on the couch. His mama sat near him. "I can't sleep," he said. "Please, can you sing, then I'll go to my bed?"

Premise/plot: Cooper can't sleep. His mama finds a way to tell him stories and sing to him at the same time. The tunes she sings: "Rock-a-bye Baby," "The Farmer in the Dell," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Jingle Bells," and "Lullabye and Good Night."

My thoughts: My guess is that all the singing would make this a fun read aloud to share with little ones. I liked this one because I like to make up my own words to familiar songs. I always have. I'm guessing I always will. That's just how my family works. I like it because it celebrates singing in addition to celebrating the bond between parent and child.

My lingering question: Why kangaroos? If Cooper gets to crawl back into his mama's pouch to go to sleep, why would bedtime ever be a struggle? True, bedtime struggles don't always, always, always have to be about separation anxiety--mom or dad leaving the room, being all alone in your bed all alone, sleepy but still awake. True, bedtime struggles could come from "I'm not tired. I'm not ready for bed. I want to play." But the closeness and safety of Mama--being IN the pouch--I'm not seeing why Cooper would ever have stress. In fact, he seems to have the good life.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Board book: This Little Trailblazer

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer. Joan Holub. Illustrated by Daniel Roode. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Paving the way to a future that's bright. Helping the world with their skills, smarts, and might. Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

Premise/plot: This board book introduces little ones to trailblazing women from all walks of life and corners of the world. Readers meet Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale, Coco Chanel, Rosa Parks, Maria Tallchief, Wilma Rudolph, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruby Bridges, Maya Lin, and Malala Yousafzai.
Each woman is introduced in rhyme. The next page contains a few more facts.
Coco Chanel
This little trailblazer
became a millionaire
by designing simpler clothes
for women to wear.
Coco Chanel disliked the tight dresses of the 1900s. She created comfortable styles that women still love today.
Rosa Parks
This little trailblazer
caused a big fuss
by not giving up
her seat on the bus.
Rosa Parks's bravery helped change an unfair rule that African Americans could not sit by Caucasians on the bus.
My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I loved the rhymes. I liked the additional facts. I wasn't absolutely wowed by the illustrations. (In fact, I disliked some of the illustrations. The illustration of Coco Chanel bothered me. Her lipstick is so dark that it looks like a black mustache. She looks like Hercules Poirot. I do not think that was the illustrator's intent at all.) But I loved the premise of this one. 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper

Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Laura Zarrin. 2017. Bloomsbury. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "Let's play a game," said Wallace. He flew high above the trees. "Let's play I Spy," said Grace. She flew next to him.

Premise/plot: Wallace and Grace are detective owls. In this early chapter book, they except two cases. Monty wants to hire Wallace and Grace to prove that Sal stole his cupcake. Sal wants to hire Wallace and Grace to prove that he did NOT take Monty's cupcake. Will Wallace and Grace discover WHO stole the cupcake? Is Sal innocent? Will readers solve the mystery before Wallace and Grace?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this second book in the series. Like the first book it has four chapters. Wallace and Grace showcase their detective skills a bit better in this one, in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this series to young readers. I think the illustrations are lovely, and the plot is fun.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wallace and Grace Take The Case

Wallace and Grace Take the Case. Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Laura Zarrin. 2017. Bloomsbury. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "The sun is going down!" called Grace. "It's time to get up!"

Premise/plot: Wallace and Grace are detective owls; they are the owls behind the Night Owl Detective Agency. In this first book in the series, readers meet Wallace and Grace. Edgar, a rabbit, hires these two because he's super-worried there's a GHOST IN THE GARDEN. Is there a ghost in the garden? If it's not a ghost, what is it? Will Wallace and Grace see the ghost and discover the ghost's identity?

My thoughts: This is an early chapter book. There are four chapters. The text size is large, and it has a good amount of illustration. I think Grace is an adorable owl. I'm glad that there are new mystery series being written for young readers. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cats

Cats. Larry Dane Brimner. Illustrated by Tom Payne. 2001. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Cats! Come in, cats. Let's play, cats. Please, cats! Stay on the floor.

Premise/plot: If you have a beginning reader who loves cats, this one is an absolute must. It has just thirty-three different words, most of them quite simple to read. If you tend to think that beginning readers must by necessity lack story, again this is a must. The story is about a little girl and her crazy cats.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. There are not a lot of words per page, but it's not light on story. It's a fun, engaging, SILLY story starring LOTS of CATS.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Board book: Baby Loves Thermodynamics

Baby Loves Thermodynamics. Ruth Spiro. Illustrated by Irene Chan. 2017. Charlesbridge. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good morning, Sun! The sun shines on Baby. It makes Baby feel warm. The sun shines on the tree. It helps the tree grow. How does the sun help the tree grow? By giving it energy! Sunlight + Air + Water = Food for the Tree.

Premise/plot: Ruth Spiro explains thermodynamics in a simple, fun way for the youngest of readers in her newest board book. Also not to be missed Baby Loves Quantum Physics.  

My thoughts: I really enjoyed both board books. I loved how simple the text is. The illustrations are fun as well. I loved, loved, loved how the sun was illustrated in Baby Loves Thermodynamics.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 15, 2017

Board book: Baby Loves Quantum Physics

Baby Loves Quantum Physics! Ruth Spiro. Illustrated by Irene Chan. 2017. Charlesbridge. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Baby loves Cat! Meow! Sometimes Cat likes to hide. Where is Cat now? Baby wants to find him! Is Cat here? Or here? Cat is in the box!

Premise/plot: Baby has found Cat. Cat is in the box! Will Cat be awake? Will Cat be asleep? In this simple board book, Spiro explains quantum physics in one little sentence: "In quantum physics, until Baby looks in the box, Cat is both asleep and awake."

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! I do love cats. I love cats more than science honestly, but a good science documentary usually holds my attention. (I've found that so long as I'm not ever tested on what makes me curious, my curiosity has no limits.) Parents may or may not be familiar with Schrodinger's cat, but either way this one is an enjoyable story.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Board Book: Charlie Builds

Charlie Builds. Bob Bianchini. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Charlie and he loves to build a castle with Dad fit for a king, a bridge made with sticks tied together with string, a skyscraper with blocks one hundred stories high, a fire station with boxes for all the brave guys...

Premise/plot: Readers first met Charlie and his dad in Charlie Rides. In their second book, Charlie and his Dad are building anything and everything...together...just the way they like it. But what is Charlie's FAVORITE building to build with his dad? Could it be a BLANKET tent for reading?!?!

My thoughts: I definitely loved this one. I loved the relationship of Charlie and his Dad. I loved the details of the illustrations. Both father and son appear to be creative. Not every builder would think to build a bridge for his train set made out of Popsicle sticks. I love that we get all the seasons of the year--summer, winter, fall, spring. The text is well-written. It may include a sentence that would be a nightmare to diagram, but, the rhythm and rhyme of it work.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Board book: Meet Happy Bear

Changing Faces: Meet Happy Bear. Nathan Thoms. Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Oh no! Happy Bear isn't happy anymore. Let's do something silly to make him happy again! We did it! Happy Bear is happy again! Uh-oh! Happy Bear looks worried. Let's sing a song to make him happy again! We did it! Happy bear is happy again!

Premise/plot: Happy Bear isn't always happy. Sometimes he's sad, worried, or mad. In this interactive board book, readers get the opportunity to make Happy Bear HAPPY again. His facial expressions change with the turning of the pages.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! I have not seen this kind of interactive book before. I think it's a cute idea. I thought the mouse and the bear were both adorable. The illustrations almost have a vintage feel to them. 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chicken in School

Chicken in School. Adam Lehrhaupt. Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Zoey wasn't at all like the other chickens. And that's how Sam liked it. "Where are the kids going?" asked Zoey. "It's the first day of school," said Sam. "I've always wanted to go to school..." "You have?" asked Zoey. "Yes!" said Sam. "There are snacks at school."

Premise/plot: Zoey and Sam are back for another adventure. (The first picture book starring these two farm friends was Chicken in Space.) Zoey has plans to open a school. There is great interest among the animals (Sam, Pip, and Henry). Clara, the cow, well she says she's not interested. But. Little ones may notice how she keeps showing up and speaking her opinion! What will Sam's favorite part of school be?

My thoughts: This one was a fun picture book. Zoey is quite a lovable chicken. And Sam is fun as well. Even if he's always thinking about food! Before this year I'd not really paid attention to chickens starring in picture books. But this year alone, I've discovered some GREAT books starring chickens. This one is definitely worth reading.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 11, 2017

Chicken in Space

Chicken In Space. Adam Lehrhaupt. Illustrated by Sharhar Kober. 2016. HarperCollins. 36 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Zoey wasn't like the other chickens. She had dreams. She had a plan. She had a pig. "Put your hat on, Sam," said Zoey. "We're going to space!" "Before lunch?" asked Sam. "Before pie? Is that a good Idea?" But Zoey was already off.

Premise/plot: Zoey is an ambitious chicken. Zoey wants to go to space, and she wants her best friend, Sam, to go with her. Will their space mission succeed? Maybe. Will Zoey and Sam have lots of fun? Definitely!

My thoughts: Zoey is such a fun character. In just a few short pages, Zoey charmed me. So did Sam. Would Zoey be as much fun as she is without him? I'm not sure! There were so many things to love about this one. I loved that the space ship was really a basket with balloons tied on it. I loved that a baseball flying through the air was an asteroid. I loved that a kite sailing through the air was a comet. It's a fun story.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Plot Chickens

The Plot Chickens. Mary Jane Auch. Illustrated by Herm Auch. 2009. Holiday House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Henrietta loved to read. Soon she had read every book on the farm a dozen times, so she went to town to find more. When she spotted people carrying books out of the library, she went inside to wait in line. When it was Henrietta's turn, the librarian said, "We have nothing for chickens here. Try the feed store." Frustrated, Henrietta clucked at the top of her lungs: BUK, BUK, BUK!" "Well, why didn't you say so?" The librarian handed her three books.

Premise/plot: Henrietta the hen loves, loves, loves to read. But one day she decides that she might like to write as well. She's never written a book before, but, with a little help from a book about writing, she begins the long writing process. Writing has rules, and, she is determined to follow them. Will this mean her book gets published? that her book is favorably reviewed? placed on library shelves? The answer may just surprise you!

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I loved seeing Henrietta and the other hens (her aunts mainly) work together in the writing process. I loved seeing the actual finished story. But even more I loved how the book captured the process of writing. Here are the rules she sets out to follow:

1) You need a main character.
2) You need to hatch a plot.
3) Give your main character a problem.
4) Develop your plot by asking, "What if?"
5) Write what you know.
6) Build suspense.
7) Make your story come alive by using all five senses.
8) The main character must solve her (or his) own problem.

As you can see, this isn't bad advice! The book has humor as well. For example, the publisher who rejects the story is named Hunter Fox. And the reviewer from Corn Book who hated her review was named Noah Lyke. There is plenty of pun-based humor as well.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Sock Thief

The Sock Thief. Ana Crespo. Illustrated by Nana Gonzales. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: In a small Brazilian town, Felipe leaves home earlier than usual. He walks a long way to school. Still sleepy, he stops by his family's mango tree. He picks the pinkest mangoes he sees. The sweet fruit wakes him up. Felipe has a secret.

Premise/plot: Once a week, Felipe becomes a SOCK THIEF. On his way to school, he steals socks from the clothes' lines that he passes. In place of the socks he steals, he leaves a mango behind. Why is he a sock thief? Once a week it is his turn to bring a "soccer" ball for the kids to play with. He makes his soccer ball each week with old newspapers and socks.

My thoughts: I liked this one. It is written in English with a few Portuguese words added in. (These are defined in the glossary at the end of the book.) I am not a soccer fan, but, I do like seeing creativity and enthusiasm at work.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cat Dreams

Cat Dreams. Ursula K. Le Guin. Illustrated by S.D. Schindler. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's time to run. I love to leap. But now I think I'll go to sleep.

Premise/plot: It's nap time. What is this cat dreaming of?! Readers find out in this rhyming book that may leave little cat lovers quite satisfied.

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. I'm torn between "like" and "love," however. I love, love, love the cover. I think it says READ ME NOW. I love the illustrations throughout the book. Perhaps not as much as the cover itself, but they are really quite good. The text, I enjoyed it. But. I'm not sure I loved it on its own. I think cat lovers will enjoy this one.

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

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wordplay

Wordplay. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Meet Verb. Verb does things. She climbs. She slides. She twirls. Everyone watches Verb. "Wow!" says Interjection. "An impressive display," says Adjective. "Very graceful," says Adverb. Verb is happy. Meet Noun. Noun can't DO like Verb. But Noun can BE. He can be a person. Or a place. Or even a thing. Now everyone watches Noun. "Roar!" says Interjection. "Big, scary teeth...tiny little arms," says Adjective. "What will he be next? says Adverb. Verb notices.

Premise/plot: This picture book is set on a playground and stars the parts of speech: Verb, Noun, Adjective, Adverb, Interjection. But are these parts of speech always on the best of terms with each other? Not always apparently! Verb and Noun seem destined to be enemies until something unexpected happens....

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. I'm not sure I love, love, love it. But the illustrations are bright and bold. In addition they are quite silly and expressive. I think I like Verb the best because of her expressions. Noun was hard to relate to--for me--because he kept changing. This grammar-themed picture book is surprisingly action-packed.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring

The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring. Gilbert Ford. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Richard James was a dreamer. But in 1943 the United States was at war. Richard had so support his country and his family, so he worked as an engineer for the United States Navy in a shipyard in Philadelphia.

Premise/plot: While trying to invent something that would "keep fragile ship equipment from vibrating in choppy seas," Richard was inspired by a falling torsion spring that fell from above his desk and started walking across it. He was so excited, he took it home to show his wife and son. Was it a new toy? He thought it might be. Betty, his wife, named it SLINKY. Together they would try to make a go of it. They borrowed $500.00, made 400 of them, and then tried to get the Slinky into local stores....

My thoughts: I really liked this one. Did it answer ALL my questions about the toy, about its creators, about its success? Probably not. But should it have to be packed with enough information to satisfy adults when the book was meant to be a picture book for children? I think the story is a fun one. It really made me want to look up Slinky commercials on YouTube.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Peppa Pig Phonics

Peppa Pig Phonics Set. Adapted by Lorraine Gregory. 2017. Scholastic. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: The Peppa Pig Phonics Set is published by Scholastics. It features ten books and two workbooks. There are two books for each short vowel sound. The books for the short a vowel sound are: "Look At That Hat" and "Daddy Pig Can." The books for the short e vowel sound are: "The Best Pet" and "They Get Wet." The books for the short i vowel sound are: "Fix-it Daddy Pig" and "Peppa's Trip." The books for the short o vowel sound are: "Lots of Jobs" and "Mr. Fox's Shop." The books for the short u vowel are: "Fun in the Sun" and "Mummy Pig's Good Luck."

Each book is a story featuring short sentences.
Look at that hat. It is a crown hat. Look at that hat. It is a brown hat. Look at that hat. It is a tall hat. Look at that hat. It is a small hat. Look at that hat. It is a rain hat. Look at that hat. It is a train hat.
Peppa Pig has fun. She has fun in the sun. She has fun when she jumps. Jump, jump, jump! She has fun when she hunts. Hunt, hunt, hunt!
My thoughts: I feel the text is simple enough that young children could learn to read using this text. While the vocabulary is more limited when compared with other Peppa Pig stories, the characters are true in spirit to the original. And each book has a humorous ending. For example, in "Fun in the Sun" Peppa ends up having fun in the tub because she played in the mud. In "Look at that Hat," the last page shows Daddy Pig NOT wearing a hat, but, with a duck on his head. There's just enough humor to give this phonics set some life.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, September 4, 2017

Naptastrophe

Naptastrophe. Jarret J. Krosoczka. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It seemed that nobody listened to Lucy when she said, "I'm not tired." So she found herself in her room. With the lights off. During the daytime.

Premise/plot: Lucy, the heroine-rabbit, is NOT tired and she will NOT nap. So her Dad takes her on his errands. Will the errands go well since she did NOT get a nap? Or will there be a naptastrophe at the store? Since the book is titled Naptastrophe! readers of all ages can predict what's coming...

My thoughts: I really liked this one. I thought it was fun. Is it my favorite, favorite, favorite book on the subject? Probably not. But it was still a fun book.

I will never tire of saying that Janet Wong's Grump is the BEST, BEST, BEST book on the subject. It is just a CRIME that it is out of print, and a CRIME that it has not been published as a board book.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

This Little Piggy: An Owner's Manual

This Little Piggy. An Owner's Manual. Cyndi Marko. 2017. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Have you always wanted a pet with all your heart?

Premise/plot. This Little Piggy: An Owner's Manual stars two kids--a brother and a sister--desperate to convince their Mom they need a pet. The pet they decide upon--after some scheming on the sister's part--is A PIG. The book is a step-by-step manual on how to convince your mom to let you have a pet pig. The text is both in prose and speech bubbles. This chapter book features a lot of illustrations.

My thoughts: I liked it. It had its cute moments. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to kids, the actual target audience. It just wasn't a thrilling read for me--as an adult! I would imagine that it's a stand-alone book and not part of a larger ongoing series.  

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Fairy Friend

A Fairy Friend. Sue Fliess. Illustrated by Claire Keane. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There are fairies in the sky. All around you, fairies fly, flit and flutter, tumble, twirl, when the wind blows, fairies swirl....

Premise/plot: This picture book is definitely in verse. (The book doesn't just rhyme, the text is arranged in verse format.) The more you love poetic language, descriptive text, and imagery, the more you'll be able to appreciate it.

My thoughts: The text was okay for me. It was. I can enjoy poetry when I'm in a certain mood. And I don't have anything against fairies. (I clap my hands for Tinker Bell every time.) But it was the illustrations that called to me and said: TAKE THIS BOOK HOME FROM THE LIBRARY.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Make and Play: Christmas


Make and Play: Christmas. Joey Chou, illustrator. 2017. Candlewick. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: Make & Play Christmas is an interactive book for families with young children. It features 20 press-out pieces to create your own tree ornaments. The first seventeen pages are the press-out pieces. (You'll definitely need a way to keep these together; there is no built in storage system.) Ornaments include a reindeer, a Santa, a tree, an angel, a snowman, several balls, two ginger cookies, a bell, lots of snowflakes, and a candy cane or two.

So what else does the book include? Suggestions for activities for the whole family.

Craft suggestions:
  • Paper Chains
  • Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
  • Reindeer Prints
  •  Snowball Truffles Recipe
  • Make your own wrapping paper

Song suggestions:
  •  Jingle Bells
  • Deck the Halls
  •  We Wish You A Merry Christmas
My thoughts: I definitely like this one. I would recommend it for families, but not as a Christmas gift. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, September 1, 2017

Simone Biles

Simone Biles. Matt Scheff. 2016. [Dec. 2016] Sportzone. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: US Gymnast Simone Biles had work to do.

Premise/plot: This title is one in the Olympic Stars nonfiction series. It opens and closes with the 2016 Olympics. In between readers learn a little about Simone Biles--her personal background, her work ethic, her athletic career.

My thoughts: The book is definitely reader-friendly. Love the use of photographs throughout. I'd say the audience is elementary school. It includes a timeline, a glossary, and an index. I have personally LOVED, LOVED, LOVED watching gymnastics since I was five or six. I love both the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics. I love hearing the personal stories of the athletes. So this one was an easy choice for me.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers