Featured Video

We have important news to share with teachers, parents, and readers of all ages!  Please visit our new blog.                                       

August 10, 2016


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 December Reviews


The Pink Party by Maryann Macdonald, illustrated by Judy Stead

Reviewed by JJ, Virginia Mom


I have to start off by saying I read this book FIRST, before reading it to my children. While the illustrations are cute and the prominent use of pink fits the storyline, I was dismayed by some of the behavior of the characters.

The story starts off with two best friends and the things they do together. Their shared love of pink connects the girls. When Rose gets a new pink lunchbox, Valentina wants one too. Valentina politely asks Rose if she can get one. Rose doesn’t really want her to, but doesn’t say anything.

Jealousy is an important topic to discuss with children at ANY age and the story goes along fine until Valentina’s birthday party. I was dismayed by Rose’s behavior at the party. She gets mad at Valentina because the other girls pay more attention to her than Rose. Rose calls her a “show-off” and stomps off in a huff taking Valentina’s birthday present with her.

My problem is that Rose doesn’t apologize until AFTER Valentina comes over and apologizes to her. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with being the center of attention at your own birthday party. Rose eventually tells Valentina she was jealous and apologizes. Their world returns to normal with the two girls sharing and the world is once again a perfectly pink place to be.

Eventually, I decided to read The Pink Party to my five-year-old after her little brother went to bed. It was interesting watching her face as I read the book to her. Her face scrunched up when Rose stomped off. She said, “That wasn’t very nice.” My heart soared at her response. She was happy when the girls were friends again. We talked about how it’s okay to be jealous. She’d just experienced it when her little brother got a toy for his birthday that she wanted to play with. She had to wait until he was done with it. She was not happy, but she waited for a turn. When I asked if she liked the book…her response: “I liked all the pink.”

As a parent, this book has an important message, but misses the mark on properly addressing it through the characters’ behavior. I think there are better books out there to teach this lesson.


Zoom, Rocket, Zoom! by Margaret Mayo, illustrated by Alex Ayliffe

Reviewed by Jennie, Ohio Mom

The action-packed read-aloud Zoom, Rocket, Zoom! delivers space excitement for little listeners. Bold action words describe the various steps involved with space exploration, from blasting off to moon walking, space satellites to robot spacecraft. The lyrical prose has just enough repetition to be engaging. As the type gets bigger, I couldn’t help but make my voice bigger as well. The use of sound words heightens the excitement even more.

My child loves the book because the section on space stations seemed like so much fun to her. Weightless somersaulting just seemed like the best tumbling idea. Other sections explain some details on not only what is orbiting Earth, but why. Children learn that satellites are involved with weather forecasting and robot spacecraft are powered by the sun to reach distant planets. Kids love knowing interesting facts that others might not know!

Beyond the text, the pictures in this book are beautiful. Artistic paper collages were used to illustrate the pages in eye-catching pop art fashion. The space scenes are depicted in vivid colors with just enough detail to spark imagination, giving kids great topics for dreaming.

The story and pictures combine to offer a lot of fun to share with any little one.


Snow Party by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Mark Jones

Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad

Cate and I read Snow Party for this month’s review. The art was really beautiful, and Cate enjoyed looking at all the pictures after we finished reading. The story didn’t really engage her, though. I found it was a little slow, and the buildup to the snow party didn’t really reward us with anything special in the end. We had quite a few starts and stops throughout reading, so it didn’t really hold Cate’s attention too well. It was just an okay read, and probably not a book Cate will ask for again anytime soon.


It really was nicely illustrated, though. Sorry I couldn’t be more positive about it, but it was kind of a dud.


 Frozen Noses by Jan Carr, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue

Reviewed by Adam, Wisconsin Dad

Frozen Noses is a short, simple rhyming book on the joys of outdoor play during winter—sledding, skating, snowman-building, snowball-throwing—followed by a grateful return to a warm house. Our daughter read it a few times, though didn’t seem particularly interested in it past that. Whether that was the relatively simple narrative or the book’s short length, I’m not sure. We’ve received several requests to sip hot cocoa by the fireplace since the book arrived, so at least the book’s coda made an impression. 

The three kids in the book are pictured by cut and layered colored paper: pleasant, but the broad shapes and bright primary colors felt like they’d be better suited to an audience younger than three years old.


 A Snowy Surprise by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram

Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom

A Snowy Surprise (originally published as You Can Do It, Sam) is the perfect book for preschoolers! It’s about Mrs. Bear and her son, Sam. They bake 12cakes and decide to give them to their neighbors on Plum Street. Each cake is put inside a red bag with a label that reads “A Tasty Surprise.” Mrs. Bear and Sam drive down their street and one by one, Sam takes each neighbor a cake and delivers them all by himself! At the end, Sam and Mama enjoy a cake and some cocoa.

Each page is a full picture and is gorgeously illustrated by Anita Jeram. The illustrations are done in acrylic.

A wonderful follow-up activity for this book would be to bake something for your neighbors and let your children help you deliver them! I read this to my son and he really liked the pictures and liked the mice at the end of the book.

We’ll read it again and again as he gets older, and each year, it’ll be what we read to inspire us to make something delicious for our neighbors. If you enjoy making things for your neighbors, this book would be the perfect tool to help get your child ready and excited to do what Sam and Mrs. Bear did! This is a must-have book to add to your collection of winter books!



Little Penguin Lost by Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Gavin Scott

Reviewed by Lysa, New Hampshire Mom

This was a sweet book! With temperatures dropping, it was appropriate to visit with some adorable little penguins, and a supposedly mean scary walrus. My six-year-old loved every time they yelled out “Wal-the-wump” and got my three-year-old shivering in anticipation. The book reminded me a bit of the movie Happy Feet with its adorable penguins, but the story is all its own. You just want to cuddle up with the little penguin who has lost his Sockybug lovey and help while they search everywhere for his best friend. Finding out Wal-the-wump is actually a big old softie made my boys giggle in delight and they decided they wanted a walrus of their own! This was lots of fun and very cute, and the illustrations were incredibly engaging.


One Christmas Night by M. Christina Butler, illustrated by Tina Macnaughton

Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom

This book is a great Christmas story about getting ready for the holiday season and celebrating with friends. Little Hedgehog creates homemade gifts and decorates his house to create a Christmassy look. Even though his house is all ready for the holidays, he still feels like something is missing. It’s not until the end of the story that children learn what really makes a holiday special. No holiday is ever complete without the company of your friends!

I highly recommend this book for any parent that wants to add a heartwarming holiday story to their child’s bookshelf. Little Hedgehog learns the true meaning of the holiday season when all of his friends come together to help him get ready for Christmas. This book will make a wonderful addition to your child’s library, especially during this holiday season!


Little Bea and the Snowy Day by Daniel Roode

Reviewed by Karey, Texas Mom

Little Bea and the Snowy Day came to our door at the perfect time. We were just starting to talk about winter and the holidays, but my family was having a bit of a hard time getting in the spirit due to the 80-degree weather outside. This fun snowy book really helped. The pictures are full of wintry fun. My kids also loved finding all of the animals, some of whom are not typically in most children’s books. They also loved that the book finished with their most favorite treat of all, hot chocolate, which we had to enjoy as well! Little Bea is a perfect way to spend a winter’s afternoon, even if it feels like summer!


How do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

Reviewed by Minal, Oregon Mom

I can’t believe we have never read the How do Dinosaurs…series! How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? was a hilarious and wonderfully written story. As a parent, it is nice read a book where these giant silly dinosaurs are the kids! I loved how Jane Yolen and Mark Teague take dinosaurs and make them models for kids everywhere. The illustrations are fantastic with each dinosaur doing something naughty and the expressions on the grown-ups’ faces are ones I’m sure my kids have seen many a time. I liked this book because it takes a simple concept of good behavior at Christmas time and asks children to judge if the ways of the dinosaurs are good or bad. Instead of preaching to the choir, these authors are asking the choir to contemplate good behavior. As a parent, this concept was great and I liked how they have managed to write in the type of dinosaur illustrated on the page. My seven-year-old is going through a dinosaur phase and this was right up his alley. He came home from the library with the others of this collection two days after we read this one! Parents and teachers, I would highly recommend this book because it will decrease, hopefully, the number of times you will have to utter “no.” I will instead say, “Would dinosaurs do this?”



Skippyjon Jones and the Cirque de Ole by Judy Schachner

Reviewed by Phyllis, Arizona Mom

If this is your first Skippyjon Jones book, you are in for a wild adventure! This charming Siamese cat steadfastly denies his genus and species, pretending instead to be a bilingual Chihuahua. He thinks nearly any word can be translated to Spanish by just adding “-ito” to the end. This episode expands his repertoire of languages to include French phrases as well, as the title suggests.

Skippyjon is remarkable in his self-knowledge and self-expression. He is boundless in enthusiasm and a daredevil against all odds. His confidence is so firm that he sees the reflection of a Chihuahua instead of a cat when he glances in a mirror!

Contrast that with his ever-logical Mama Junebug Jones, who must care for all four of her children. She uses long talks and time-outs to curb her son’s wild stunts, such as chasing squirrels across electrical wires. Her three daughters are constant cheerleaders for the wild ideas and plans of Skippyjon. But Mama has to explain that the nine lives of cats are only a child’s story and not the truth.

His dream comes true when he meets up with the Tingling Brothers’ Circus, full of talented performing Chihuahuas and lots of wild animals. Skippyjon fits right in when he uses his oversize ears to form the base for a perfect trembling dog tower. But a bully steps in to spoil that plan. Read this hilarious account of how a cannon and a highwire act make this circus the ultimate performance of all time!


Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall

Reviewed by Becky, Illinois Mom

The Dinotrux are back, and this time they are out for revenge! Set off by a class of unruly kindergartners, the Dinotrux wreak havoc all over the city, only to find their true calling in a wonderful surprise ending.

My son was taken in by the pictures when he read this book. The illustrations are very detailed, and the font is very easy to read.

I liked reading it with him because it was fun to read the Dinotrux dinosaur name and then try to name the real dinosaur. Creative juices were flowing in full force with names like Cementosaurus and Dumploducus!

A great read-aloud for any time of the day, Revenge of the Dinotrux will be a great addition to your library.


The Christmas Pups by Theresa Bateman, illustrated by John Kanzler

Reviewed by Kelli, Pennsylvania Mom

Just seeing the cover art of this book—cute puppies and a Christmas tree—got my kiddos excited! They couldn’t wait to read it. From the first page when the puppies are left in a cardboard box, shivering in the rain, my son (six) and daughter (eight) were completely into the story, hoping that Ruff, Tuff, and Penny would be rescued and find a good home.

Once the pups are taken to a local animal shelter (on the very next page—big relief!), the illustrations are warm and colorful with holiday decorations—candy canes, garland, red bows, and even dog bone–shaped ornaments on the tree. We also loved the older shelter dog, Brownie, and his explanation to the pups of what Christmas meant to him. This is definitely a heartwarming holiday story that is a perfect bedtime read.

Just beware—if your kids have been begging for a puppy for Christmas, they will probably beg even more after reading this book!



An Orange for Frankie  by Patricia Polacco

Reviewed by Rachel, Utah Mom

An Orange for Frankie was thought-provoking, heartwarming, and educational for my family. I read the book before reading it to my children. I must admit I worried that it might not keep their attention because there are a lot of “olden time” phrases that they just were not going to understand.

I decided to make this an educational adventure for them. We stopped and explained all the old phrases. They enjoyed learning about what life was like without electricity, phones, and cars. They were sad that hobos still exist today—there are just more of them and they have been labeled differently. They were very intrigued about the Christmas traditions of this family. Some are very similar to ours, and some very different.

My children enjoyed the thought of feeding hobos, the stories they might tell, and how it would make them feel to do something nice for a stranger in need. They were most touched by Frankie giving his favorite sweater to Jump-Up Billy. We discussed what kind of things we could do to have “the true spirit of Christmas” like Frankie. They enjoyed the fact the everyone in the family shared a part of their orange with Frankie. That was also a feel-good moment for them. They were saddened to learn that Frankie died and that the story was true, not made up.

This is a story that should be read every year to remind us of what the season is really about.


Shark Bites by Ian Boyd

Reviewed by Kevin, Michigan Dad

The popularity of sharks amongst boys ranks high on the favorite animals chart, right next to dinosaurs and wolves. These sea monsters are equal parts terror, brute strength, and pure awesomeness. I doubt any young lover of sharks will not want to attack and devour Shark Bites. A unique feature of the book that will add to a reader’s excitement is that it looks like a huge corner has been bitten away by a shark attack. Inside you will find quick snippets of facts about sharks, organized in an easy-to-read format. Readers will learn each shark’s scientific name, description, size, where they live, and what they eat. My favorite part though is the section titled “Fear Factor” where a shark’s danger to humans is measured. Colorful photographs accompany each description of these ferocious fish. You won’t need a bigger boat to enjoy this book, but it might be fun to play the Jaws theme in the background. This book will be a favorite of boys in grades K­–3.


Animal Behavior Pack

Reviewed by Bruce, Michigan Dad

My daughter loved this set of nonfiction books that are all about animals. Each educational book has information about animals that hibernate, migrate, live in herds, and are nocturnal. The amazing pictures and informational animal facts on each page help make learning enjoyable and effortless. Throughout the books, words appear in brown and are defined at the bottom of the page. This helped my daughter define words that she may not have known otherwise, such as: predator, infrared, zooplankton, and estivate. These words also appear in the glossary at the end of the book. Her favorite part of each book is the amazing animal fact at the end. I also enjoyed the additional resources at the end of each book that has suggested reading material and Internet sites that offer a safe, fun way to keep the learning going and that relate to each book. I would recommend these easy-to-read educational books to teachers and parents. They make reading and discovering new things about animals interesting and entertaining.



Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Reviewed by Carolyn, South Dakota Mom

Funny how I finished this book on Saturday—a friend had already given me a copy to read! Then I opened my package on Monday and giggled to myself. Easy-peasy!

Wonder was fantastic. A great book for young adults, teenagers, parents, whoever might have a bully or do the bullying! It reads very easy; short chapters. Each character has a point of view and it really seems like you are hearing their thoughts. You find yourself thinking how tragic Auggie’s life must be, but why should he feel sorry for himself? His parents and his sister and the rest of the family obviously love him very much.

You really get both sides of the story when you read this book. The bullies get a chance to speak, the sister gets a chance to speak, and it’s like you are in their heads and you really want to hug them for getting their feelings out in the open. The friends in his life learn what it is like to care for somebody and the true meaning of friendship.

My son really liked this book because he has a disability and we are friends with a family whose son was born with a similar facial deformity. It gave him a better idea of how his friend feels sometimes that people are always staring at him or maybe are just friends with him to be on someone’s good list. Plus, this book had short, easy chapters, which made it easy to follow along with the characters and kept the story interesting.

Tags: ,


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

December 12, 2012