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June 1, 2016

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Mom & Dad Squad November Reviews


Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Henry Cole

Reviewed by JJ, Virginia Mom

My children and I read Mooseltoe the other night. My daughter said that she really liked the funny pictures and I heartily agree. Henry Cole’s moosetached Moose puts a twinkle in any reader’s eye. The endless preparation for the Christmas holiday is humorously handled. Mr. Moose’s antics come to a climax when it is discovered that one item has not been checked off the list. The family realizes that there is NO Christmas tree.

Mr. Moose tries to fix his blunder, but there are no more Christmas trees for purchase. He returns home with a heavy heart. His family tries to hide their disappointment, but Mr. Moose can plainly see it on their faces. Mr. Moose’s imagination saves the day as his moosetache becomes the centerpiece of their home’s Christmas cheer.

I greatly enjoyed the idea that any problem has a solution with some creativity applied. It’s good to realize that nothing is ever “perfectly perfect.”

My family and I believe that Mooseltoe should find its way to every home for the holidays!


Christmas Tummies Board Booksby Debbie Rivers-Moore, illustrated by Janet Samuel

Reviewed by Jennie, Ohio Mom

The holiday board books Angel Helps Out, Snowman’s Special Smile, Santa’s Big Job, and Reindeer Grows Up are perfect stocking stuffers. All four books feature adorable illustrations and fuzzy felt to pat. The books are sized perfectly, small enough to easily carry in a diaper bag or purse—that is if they aren’t stuffed into a little one’s own coat pocket!

In Reindeer Grows Up, kids identify with Rory’s sadness about being too young to make the famous Christmas Eve trek delivering toys. The book ends happily following an announcement by Santa about Rory getting to participate after all.

Darling forest animals adorn the pages of Snowman’s Special Smile. Together the small creatures gather and build a snowman. Bunnies, a robin, a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox (plus a little magic) all join together in the sweet winter tale.

Any kid who is sleepy because they were just too excited the night before will understand the next story. In Santa’s Big Job, the reindeer are unable to fall asleep as early as they should and Santa has to wake them up at the last minute to go.

Lastly, Angel Helps Out chronicles decorating a woodland Christmas tree. All the animals are involved and the Christmas Angel helps each of them in a different way.

My family loved the underlying messages of these books because they emphasized some of our favorite parts of the Christmas season. Love, community, kindness, and even a little magic blend together warmly in these small, charming stories.

Who Has These Feet? by Laura Hulbert, illustrated by Erik Brooks

Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad

Cate and I read Who Has These Feet? for our November review. Cate loves getting involved with the stories we read rather than just being read to, so she really enjoyed this book. We had fun guessing which animals the feet belonged to (she guessed most of them correctly), and then she took a few minutes to flip back through the book on her own to look at the art. She was quick to point out, however, that the sea turtle’s feet were more like flippers than feet, but I think she was willing to let it slide. All in all, a fun book with definite reread possibilities.


Animal ABC Pack

Reviewed by Adam, Wisconsin Dad

The four ABC books in this month’s group were an immediate hit around our house; daughter P insisted on poring through them (and having them read to her) in the bathroom, before bed, on the couch….Letters and sequencing are big themes at our place just now, and each book livened them up with some really vivid photos, clever use of themes, and clear, friendly styling and layout. P enjoyed the books primarily for the photography (especially the cat pictures, natch); I was amused and impressed at the forthright inclusion of dung beetles in Rain Forest ABCs, along with the authors’ willingness to work around the letter X by picking words with an initial “X” sound, rather than contrived entries for xebecs or Xantus swimming crabs. They’re lightweight enough to throw a few behind a car seat, and the photos are rich enough to be interesting more than once, which is saying something for an alphabet book. Recommended!

The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark

Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom

This is the cutest book for Christmas! My son absolutely loves this book and I think I’ve read it to him at least 20 times already! The illustrations are really clever and various breeds of cats are featured throughout the book. My son loves that I sing this to him and he claps at the end when all the cats, goldfish, and the fat mouse are all together in the shape of a Christmas tree.

This book can be used in several different ways. Our favorite way to utilize it right now is for counting purposes. My son absolutely loves to count and this book is perfect for him! As the days pass and we get closer to Christmas, more and more cats (and goldfish and our friend the fat mouse in a fur tree) are added to the page on the right side of the book. My son loves counting the animals on the left page and then counting ALL the animals on the right. It takes us a really long time to get through the book because we spend a lot of time counting!

We also like to talk about the objects in all the pictures. There are birds, fish, balloons, food, a boat, sports equipment, towels, and tutus. We love the tutus! There are a lot of colors used throughout the book too, so it’s a great way to keep learning those colors. It’s a perfect book for toddlers!

If your child loves animals, you could also get The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark.

This would be a purrfect book for kicking off the holiday spirit and kids of all ages will thoroughly enjoy this book and meow for more!


Gus the Christmas Star by Frank Remkiewicz

Reviewed by Lysa, New Hampshire Mom

This was a really cute little story. My-six-year-old read this to my toddler and they both giggled and had fun with it. It made my six-year-old think about all that he may get to do this year in first grade once Christmastime comes. The reading level was definitely below a first-grade level as it was a pre­–level 1 book, but they both still had fun together. They loved the part when they got to sing along to “Jingle Bells” especially. The illustrations were bright and colorful and very engaging. I would recommend this to any parent with smaller children or kindergarten age kids—especially near the holidays!

I Can be President too! by Yanitzia Cannetti

Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom

This book is an inspirational story about how anyone with honesty, integrity, and other good qualities can be the president. The pictures within the book are of boys and girls from various cultures and races describing the wonderful qualities that will make them a stellar president. The story reinforces all of the good qualities that parents instill within their children and will possibly ignite the desire to achieve the ultimate American dream, becoming the president.

I highly recommend this book for any parent that wants to instill hope and aspiration in their little ones. As the mother of two little girls, I found this book to be a great read to encourage my girls to reach for the stars and that they can be president too! This book will make a wonderful addition to your child’s library, especially during this election season!

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are you Going to Sleep? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Reviewed by Karey, Texas Mom

My children were both excited to read this book the moment they saw that there was a gray kitty cat on the cover of the book. They connected with the story immediately since we have a gray kitty cat as a pet. The connections continued as we read the story. The kitty in this story follows a traditional bedtime routine, complete with procrastination attempts, complaints, and a special teddy bear.

My first-grade daughter also liked that she was able to read the book with very little help from me. According to her the best part was, “That a fiction book character did nonfiction-type things, like brushing his teeth.” My three-year-old son liked the teddy bear best. “He looks just like my bear,” he shouted!

This is a simple story, but one that will become part of our very own bedtime routine.

On the Night you were Born by Nancy Tillman

Reviewed by Minal, Oregon Mom

On the Night You Were Born has become our bedtime favorite. The rhythmic flow of the words along with the soft melody of Orlagh Cassidy’s voice is a perfect combination to induce sleep and happy dreams. About two nights after we read this, my five-year-old wakes up and says, “I dreamed about panda bears and ladybugs and the moon smiling at me!” I was surprised that he remembered so much from the book. As a parent, I love the CD because frankly, you get tired of reading the same words over and over again and also because it’s nice to just listen and appreciate the words. This book came just as my oldest turned seven and it was nice to read this because we talked about the night he was born. I told him about what I was feeling and then we read this book together and we talked about how the Earth celebrated his birth. I think this is a great book because it is relatable for children and parents alike and it opens up conversations between parents and children. The illustrations are beautifully done with enough realistic detail, and the music notes interspersed throughout the book reinforce the rhythm and flow of the words.


Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Teresa Murfin

Reviewed by Phyllis, Arizona Mom

Nearly every culture has an autumn harvest festival, and Thanksgiving Rules captures our very own in the U.S. This book reflects every sight, sound, smell, and chuckle that we experience on that glorious Thursday each year, and advises us how to follow the “rules” to most enjoy it.

Percy Isaac Gifford, self-proclaimed “P.I.G.,” teaches us his personal strategy on how to enjoy Thanksgiving to the max. He creates ten “rules,” starting with helping his family clean and prepare the house, greeting guests, practicing proper etiquette, and preparing to get his fair share of the feast. Every dish and delight is carefully considered, as well as the right strength of hug to comfortably send the guests home from the party.

The illustrations of the hungry revelers were the favorite part of this book for my grandson. He thought their oval-shaped heads and upturned noses were perfect, possibly because most people are taller than he, so he ends up staring into lots of people’s nostrils, whether he would prefer to or not! This wonderful book can get you talking about holiday traditions of your own and times when all the planning worked or went slightly awry. Enjoy it with your youngster this year and every year in the future!


Spookley the Square Pumpkin: A Family to be Thankful For by Joe Troiano, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young

Reviewed by Becky, Illinois Mom

A touching Thanksgiving tale featuring Spookley the Square Pumpkin, who reminds me of a famous train we all know and love.

Spookley is sad because he doesn’t have a family and doesn’t fit in anywhere. He goes off in search of something to be thankful for, only to discover that he had it all along, at home on the farm.

My child was giggling at the pictures when he read this book. The illustrations are very cute and detailed. I liked reading it to him because we were able to talk about the story and that the moral is “home is where the heart is.”

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fall/Thanksgiving book. It will please the young and old alike.

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean

Reviewed by Kelli, Pennsylvania Mom

“Let’s read it again!” my son insisted after listening to our pal Pete’s newest story and song, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. In this toe-tapping tale, Santa has caught a bad cold on Christmas Eve and calls on Pete to deliver those anticipated gifts to the good girls and boys all over the world. My kids (ages six and eight) got a kick out of seeing Pete dressed in a skinny Santa suit and hat, driving a red minibus packed with presents, and being pulled by reindeer across the night sky.

Along with the story, the illustrations add so many clever details that made my kids laugh—like Pete on a surfboard answering Santa’s urgent call on his cell phone. They were also excited to find their names written on Santa’s long list! And of course by the second refrain of Pete’s new tune, we were singing along—“Give it your all / Give it your all / At Christmas we give, so give it your all!”

What a simple yet powerful reminder of what the Christmas season is all about—giving to one another and being able to do great things, no matter how small we may be. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas is definitely a new holiday picture-book favorite in our house!


Flat Stanley’s Christmas Adventure by Jeff Brown

Reviewed by Rachel, Utah Mom

This book was a quick read for my family. My children tend to have wandering minds (and limbs) during reading time, but this one held their attention.

Christmas and Santa Claus bring to life the imaginations of children. Even though all the aspects of Christmas that this book touched on have been heard before, it all comes to life again. They imagine again, bigger and better, all their wishes and dreams about their best Christmas.

They can hear the bells on Santa’s sleigh. They can almost taste the cinnamon in the hot chocolate that Mrs. Christmas offers to the Lambchops. They can feel the cool silver mist that magically transports the family to the North Pole. They are so intrigued by the idea of elves, that the thought of the Lambchop family meeting them makes them that much more real.

My children liked the book because of the generosity the Lambchop family showed to people they did not know. They were genuinely touched by Stanley and Arthur’s selfless attitude about gifts for themselves. They were intrigued, and had an aha moment, when they were willing to get nothing for Christmas so that people who had been touched by devastation could receive gifts of basic needs.

It is always interesting to watch the way children digest, and put to use, the knowledge they receive from reading.

National Geographic Kids: Everything Ancient Egypt by Crispin Boyer

Reviewed by Kevin, Michigan Dad

It was not until after completely falling in love with the classic song from the Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” that my oldest daughter became interested in the ancient land. She was in preschool when the questions started to fly on pyramids, mummies, scarab beetles, the Nile River, and King Tutankhamun. Luckily I also had a deep fascination with ancient Egypt as a child so I was able to talk to her about what made that historic time so cool. Author Crispin Boyer has produced a fabulous book for fans of all ages filled with interesting facts, colorful photos, informative charts, and well-written text. Budding Egyptologists will go crazy over the pages that contain information on the pharaohs, especially King Tut’s tomb and discovery. National Geographic Kids has again published an attractive and educational book that will become a starting point for future exploration. Even though I possessed a fair bit of knowledge on ancient Egypt, this book would have helped me not only “walk like an Egyptian” but also talk about what it was like being an ancient Egyptian. I probably would have still let my daughter wrap me in toilet paper to turn her daddy into a mummy.

Thea Stilton: The Journey to Atlantis by Thea Stilton

Reviewed by Bruce, Michigan Dad

Thea Stilton takes readers on an exciting adventure with the Thea Sisters yet again! My daughter loved this fast-paced adventure, filled with exotic places and a mysterious stranger who needs to find his way home. One of the unique features of the Stilton books is the creative words and pictures that add an artistic flow to each page, making the story different and intriguing from page 1 to the very end.

When Paulina discovers a mysterious boy with blue skin that has washed ashore on the beach, she doesn’t waste any time trying to help him. Paulina and her friends are able to get the boy with blue skin to safety, and learn he speaks a musical language. They must use their problem-solving skills to figure out a way to communicate with him in order to help him. From here, the story continues to have excitement around every corner with boats, an evil professor, maps, a medallion, lost worlds, and a journey that spans continents. This book is jam-packed with thrills, keeping readers guessing! One of my favorite parts is that Ms. Stilton takes the adventure around with world and exposes young readers to geography throughout the book. Parents and teachers, you don’t want to miss out on Thea Stilton’s The Journey to Atlantis!


Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor

Reviewed by Carolyn, South Dakota Mom

Sparrow Road was so enchanting. I found myself wondering whether I was reading a ghost story or the story of a family’s past. I questioned my sanity several times when the little boy “spoke” to Raine. It was intriguing to find out what he was saying about his stay in the orphanage.

I was excited to find out if the crusty old caretaker was a relative, a former orphan, or just what was his role in this family? Why did he track Raine’s mom down to work there?

An unexpected surprise was watching the relationship between Raine and her birth father come together and develop somewhat—to see what they had in common, from their looks to their actions and the heartbreak between them both.

My kid liked this book because it was easy to read and it was written from the young girl’s perspective, not some grown adult who is another part of the story. It was funny, enchanting, heart-wrenching, serious, and just a good read!

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November 14, 2012