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August 10, 2016

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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

Mom & Dad Squad Featured
Mom & Dad Squad September Reviews
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Our Mom & Dad Squad did some summer reading of their own over the past few months. They reviewed some of our fantastic new books for September, which you can find in our Back-to-School offers.

HONEYBEE 

Skip Hop: Who’s Hiding? illustrated by Weldon Swanson
Reviewed by JJ, Virginia Mom

It was so exciting to receive my first book to review from Scholastic. My kids were thrilled to have another book to read! The crisp and clean illustrations were an instant hit with both my four-year-old daughter and 21-month-old son. Bright splashes of color caught our eyes and drew us into the story. The cute characters brought a smile to our faces as we followed Mommy Owl looking for her baby.

There are tabs throughout the story where Baby Owl may be hiding. I highly recommend going through and opening all tabs BEFORE you read the story to your children. The tabs are somewhat difficult to open the first time. My children liked the tabs though because it was a fun way to unravel the mystery as to where Baby Owl was.

My daughter gives the book two thumbs up and I have to agree. I believe Who’s Hiding? will be a favorite story in our home!

You Are My Cupcake/We Belong Together by Joyce Wan

Reviewed by Jennie, Ohio Mom

Both my son and my daughter loved the two-sided book We Belong Together/You Are My Cupcake because of its numerous kid-appealing features. The whimsical pictures were adorable. They would make great nursery art! When the first book was done, we just turned the book over and read the one attached on the back. With few words per page, the book was a great start for my emerging reader. My oldest even enjoyed reading it to my younger child. After a couple of times through, my youngest happily read along.

Both books were great bedtime reads, celebrating our love for each other in silly ways. We Belong Together was a charming collection of classically matched items. It emphasized how certain things are just better with their respective counterpart. Our favorite pair was the bacon and heart-shaped egg. In You Are My Cupcake many of the various nicknames I have called my children were beautifully illustrated, from “sweet pea” to “peanut.” We recommend the book for anyone wanting to connect and spend some quality time with their little “cupcake” or “pear”!

The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz

Reviewed by Lysa, New Hampshire Mom

This was an instant favorite book with my toddler. When reading the book he is picking out things and singing along. It has been very helpful in getting my son to point out pictures and say the words, which has resulted in conversations about what is happening on each page. The words in the book are perfect “first words” for any toddler and combine reading and learning time perfectly.

My child loves this book because the pictures are large, bright, and colorful, which make it very engaging and entertaining. He takes a lot of time investigating each page even after I have finished reading. The babies shown are of all races and ethnicities so my son is being introduced early on to cultural differences.

I have read it through just as words and also have sung the song and my son absolutely loves it both ways. He claps his hands and laughs out loud every time. The pages are large and easy for him to turn and manipulate on his own. He has picked this one out over and over since we received it as his choice for naptime and nighttime reads. Vivid colors, smiling babies, and a bus driver complete with hat—what more could a toddler want?

Elmo Goes to School by Jodie Shepherd, illustrated by Christopher Moroney

Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom

The book Elmo Goes to School is perfect for so many ages. Not only would a child starting kindergarten enjoy this book, but it’s also the perfect book for a child going to preschool for the first time. The thing that makes this book so fun is that there are more than 30 flaps. Under each flap is something different, including shapes, numbers, colors, actions, and food.

This book starts off with Elmo arriving to school on a school bus. It shows his friends being greeted by their teacher, and shows the school as a very welcoming place to be. Then the school day begins and Elmo and his friends start learning different things. They learn to listen, follow directions, and count. There are class pets to take care of, and the reader is given the challenge of finding five objects on the page. There’s a page devoted to art class and the monsters learn to paint. Then they all head outside for recess! I love that it shows all the different things that can be done during recess time! The book ends with everyone enjoying snack time. The reader is asked to guess which snack belongs to which monster and the answer is revealed under each flap.

My son is only two, and definitely not ready to start school yet, but this book is perfect for teaching him about what’s to come in the future. He loves Elmo and all of the Sesame Street monsters and he loves books with flaps. This book was a win-win for him and has instantly become his new favorite book. I love that it teaches about shapes, colors, counting, action words, and seek and find.

This book would be a great back-to-school gift for a preschool or kindergarten teacher.

FIREFLY

Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad

I read Ten Little Caterpillars with my daughter, Cate. We recently raised five caterpillars to butterflies and released them, so it was good timing for the book. While she’s been asking to read older books at bedtime over the past few months (she’s really been enjoying the Rainbow Magic books), every once in a while she asks for a picture book, and Ten Little Caterpillars didn’t disappoint. She loved the art, and she especially enjoyed the chart of the ten different kinds of butterflies at the end. We read those pages over and over until she was able to memorize the names of each one and repeat them back to her mom. Her favorite of the ten butterflies was the painted lady, of course, since that was the species of butterfly we had raised.

All in all, an enjoyable book!

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom

The first time I read Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site to my children, they begged to have it read over and over again. This book has quickly become part of our bedtime routine, and we read it EVERY night right before we turn off the lights. The book is beautifully illustrated with colorful photos of construction vehicles snuggling up for bedtime with their teddy bears and blankies.

My children love big trucks, especially construction vehicles, and fell in love with the book as soon as I read it! As a parent, I love that the construction vehicles are finishing up their work and are following a bedtime routine before tucking in for the night. The rhyming text makes the book a fun read right before bed. My favorite part of the book is the repeating phrase used to say good night to each construction vehicle as they fall asleep. My children read that phrase out loud with me as they snuggle into their own beds.

I highly recommend this book for any child who has a love of construction vehicles. This book would make a wonderful addition to your child’s library.

The Chimpansneeze by Aaron Zenz

Reviewed by Karey, Texas Mom

The Chimpansneeze caught my children’s attention the moment they saw the bright and interesting cover. They laughed and groaned as each animal was effected by the chimpanzee’s sneeze. We really enjoyed predicting what was going to happen next and trying to figure out how the author would use wordplay with the next critter.

After reading the book through for the first time, we had a great time going back and noticing all of the details in the pictures. Each time we read, it seemed like something new would jump out at us!

This book held the interest of both of my children, despite a three-and-a-half-year age gap. It held my interest as well, wondering how the author could possibly make a new word out of each situation. I also enjoyed the “Did you know?” section at the end. This section was written with the parents in mind and is really quite funny! The Chimpansneeze has quickly made it on to our “regular” reading shelf and elicits imaginative play, creativity, and giggles with each reading.

Scaredycrow by Christopher Hernandez, illustrated by Kyle Poling

Reviewed by Minal, Oregon Mom

I knew after reading Scaredycrow the first time that it is going to be a favorite with my six- and four-year-olds. They asked me to read it again and again for the next three nights. By the fourth night, they had it memorized and would “act out” the story with the wonderful punch-out scarecrow included with the book. We loved the vivid illustrations and the easy text. The story resonates with the little ones because it’s about being afraid of the unknown. As a parent, it’s frustrating because children are often afraid or shy and can’t explain why. Scaredycrow is wonderful because it teaches an important lesson: how can you be afraid of someone if you haven’t talked to them?

About a week after we read this book, we were at the grocery store and a classmate of my four-year-old was waving to him. At first he was shy, but then my six-year-old reminded him of Scaredycrow and how he wasn’t afraid of the animals. Right away, off he went to talk with his friend! My kids love this story and so do I. Scaredycrow has become an instant classic with us.

SEESAW

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Reviewed by Christina, Mississippi Mom

We are always up for a new take on the life of the Gingerbread Man. The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School is a delicious twist on the well-known story of that man-of-molasses. Being left behind by the class who creates him, Gingerbread Man panics for a moment before deciding to take things into his own cookie hands. He explores the school looking for the children who “measured and mixed” while “sneaking quick licks” to bring him into existence. He meets the gym coach, the school nurse, and the art teacher, and he even sits for a spell in the principal’s office on his trek to find his children.

Written in verse, which is always a pleasure to read aloud, and formatted in a comic-book style, this tasty tale satisfied all my children who were hungry for a good story! So run, run, as fast as you can, and add this tale of the Gingerbread Man to your library!

Apples A to Z by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Jake Parker

Reviewed by Becky, Illinois Mom

When I received Apples A to Z, I immediately thought “Another A to Z book; my son is in second grade, and this is too easy for him!” Well, I was wrong. This is not just another A to Z book. It is full of facts about apples, from blossom to yield. I was educated reading this book too. Twenty-six varieties of apples are named, one for each letter of the alphabet! I had no idea there were so many apple varieties.

As a parent, I loved that words like deciduous and grafting are introduced to younger readers, as they are words that do not normally come up in everyday conversation. You can take your child outside and show him/her the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees, and explain some of the other words in further detail too. This is not just a quick-read story; every page is a launching pad for further exploration and discussion.

My child liked this book because he went to an apple orchard on a field trip, and this refreshed/reinforced what he experienced.

This book doesn’t just end at Z, either; also included are apple activities, information about Johnny Appleseed, idioms, and jokes.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand on the typical A to Z variety of books, as this one is very well written and educational, and the illustrations are warm and detailed.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean, illustrated by Eric Litwin

Reviewed by Kelli, Pennsylvania Mom

Just how cool is Pete the Cat rocking in his school shoes and singing a new toe-tapping tune? “Pretty cool!” according to my smiling six-year-old son, Noah. The clever illustrations of that black cat holding a red electric guitar and wearing oversized high tops seemed to come to life when I clicked on the free song download (www.harpercollinschildrens.com/petethecat) performed by the author, Eric Litwin. My kids and I heard the first few strums of the guitar and couldn’t help but start singing along and grooving to the beat. My eight-year-old daughter was even getting into it!

This book not only gets kids excited about going to school, it also encourages critical thinking as the reader is given catchy clues to figure out where Pete is and what he is doing throughout the day. Rocking in My School Shoes is sure to be a favorite read-aloud for preK and kindergarteners who may need an extra boost of confidence as they begin the school year. Together the story, illustrations, and music create an engaging and interactive experience for the reader that is a whole lot of fun!

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

Reviewed by Charlene, Florida Mom

If you loved If You Give a Mouse a Cookie you will undoubtedly love this book! When I showed this book to my daughter, she smiled and her excited eyes said it all! It was so exciting turning each page with the anticipation of what was going to happen next! This lovable, energetic dog kept his friend busy entertaining him the entire book. Chances are you may find them right back where they started!

I showed my daughter the similarities between her and the story: If I say you can play outside, you will ask me if we can have a picnic; if we have a picnic, you will ask me to make some delicious snacks; if we have some delicious snacks, you will ask me for a hammock to take a nap!

My daughter loved this book because she had an instant connection! Young readers will surely ask to read all of the If You Give… books. This will be an exciting step in teaching them about series books.

LUCKY

Dr. Roach’s Monstrous Stories: Night of the Zombie Goldfish by Paul Harrison

Reviewed by Teri, Oregon Mom

Have you ever wondered what happened to your goldfish if they have ever disappeared? It is not into the shiny porcelain bowl that they disappear in Dr. Roach’s latest book of Monstrous Stories…no, it is more than that when the remains of a science experiment fall into a jar of goldfish food in the Crank family.

Judd Crank thought that his science experiment had failed when it exploded and he dropped the experiment into the closest container he could find, which sadly ended up being the goldfish food that he normally feeds to his large tank full of goldfish. Now under normal circumstances these would have been your normal run-of-the-mill store-bought goldfish, but with the introduction of young Judd’s experiment-altered flakes something terrible happens in the Judd house. In fact many terrible things are unleashed as a tank of giant mutant zombie goldfish break out and wreak havoc in the small town of Carp Creek.

Imagine the surprise of a whole school of giant angry mutant zombie goldfish running amuck in your streets and the reaction of your parents as these very same fish are breaking down doors and parading through your neighborhood. Judd is in for a whole heap of trouble unless he can solve the mystery and also contain his once tiny, quiet pets.

The adventures of Judd Crank and his goldfish are a taller tale than many have seen or heard for a while in this small fishing hamlet, and with so many fish-centered storefronts and restaurants the next thing that may be on the menu is not a fresh-caught fish but your neighbor or their dog. As Judd desperately breaks into his chemistry set to find a remedy to this experiment-turned-nightmare, will he solve the mystery of his missing goldfish and save everyone? Will Judd ever see his tiny friends again, or will he be terrorized by giant scaly fiends for the rest of his days? Find out in this latest release of Dr. Roach’s Monstrous Stories to see if you are brave and fast enough to solve this mysterious mystery and missing pet case.

Scholastic Science Readers Pack

Reviewed by Kristi, Colorado Mom

This is a wonderful set of books for emerging readers. The topics of dinosaurs, farm animals, frogs, and night creatures were an instant hit with my three boys. They liked these books because of the colorful, detailed pictures, as well as the interesting facts provided in each book. The rhyming sing-song nature of the books made them fun and easy to read. After we were finished reading the books, the boys enjoyed looking at the labeled photographs at the end of Dinosaurs and Fantastic Frogs. Another favorite of theirs was the “Did You Know?” facts in the Farm Animals and Night Creatures books. The quiz, dictionary, and key words at the end of these two books were a nice bonus feature as well. As a parent, I loved how these resources captured my children’s attention and kept them interested in the book beyond the story itself. I highly recommend this set of four books to help young readers develop their reading and comprehension skills.

Creepella von Cacklefur: Return of the Vampire by Geronimo Stilton

Reviewed by Kevin, Michigan Dad

Fans of the very popular Geronimo Stilton series are sure to go batty over this new book featuring his mysterious friend, Creepella von Cacklefur. Journalist and part-time special-effects designer Creepella loves a good mystery. One dark night Grandpa Frankenstein’s long-lost friend, the vampire Franco Fangley, visits the Cacklefur Castle needing help with the ghosts haunting his home. After hearing of his problem Creepella is ready to spring into action! Quickly she and Grandpa assemble a team that includes her pet bat Bitewing, her niece Shivereen, and her cowardly friend, the famous writer Billy Sqeakspeare. Upon arriving at Fangley’s castle, the team stumbles upon all the twists, turns, and trappings within all haunted homes until they utilize the help of some little friends to crack the case. Any young reader interested in making the leap to graphic novels could not find a better vehicle than these popular comic/young reader hybrids. The brightly drawn pictures move the story along at a satisfying pace and the word art highlights great vocabulary. This is a great book for young fans of not-so-scary monsters and lighthearted mysteries.

BOOKBEAT

Between the Lines by Jodi Piccoult and Samantha van Leer

Reviewed by Carolyn, South Dakota Mom

This book was an instant obsession. The chapters are delightfully broken down so you know which character or scene is happening, and you do not get mixed up or confused. It was very easy to get caught up in the characters, their life stories, their hopes, and their dreams.

As a parent, I liked that the chapters were short enough to keep my children interested in moving on to the next scene. The book is written for young adults, but I recommend it for any fan of Jodi Picoult as well! I am an adult, and I devoured this book. I loved it.

My child liked this book because he could relate to the characters wanting out of a situation. Sometimes you want that situation to change so badly, and you have to be flexible. You have to believe and you have to want to make your dreams come true.

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September 12, 2012