How do you explain a concept like apartheid to a classroom of children? How do… Read More
December 9, 2013
I Love You Mommy…I Love You Daddy by Catherine Vase
Reviewed by JJ, Virginia Mom
What a wonderful book to review during the Christmas season. I was VERY excited to read this book to my children. I was informed that Scholastic will be Americanizing the text for the Scholastic version, but I found I really enjoyed the original British text. It enabled me to start a discussion with my daughter about how people in different countries use different words for the same things. We talked about how “mummy” is another way to say “mommy.” The vibrant illustrations captured our attention and she was really excited when she figured out that “wellies” is another word for “boots.”
When my kids saw that the book flipped over they couldn’t wait to get their hands on it to read the other side. The “If you were a…” statements made us smile and laugh, especially the toy that was a roaring lion. Both my children (my two-year-old son and five-year-old daughter) LOVE to ROAR. It brought back memories for me because the roar of a lion was the first animal sound my daughter ever made.
The theme of LOVE is appropriate all year long and this book embodies that message magnificently through cute characters, vivid colors, and a heartwarming message.
This book is a must-have in every family’s library. We hope you’ll enjoy this story in the coming New Year!
Wake Up, Groundhog! by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Reviewed by Jennie, Ohio Mom
Wake Up, Groundhog! details a familiar story with a surprise twist. The story focuses on Phyllis, niece of the current famous Punxsutawney meteorologist. Phyllis is a young groundhog who enjoys crisp spring air, mud between her toes, and warm summer sun, unlike most of her relatives.
With her personal connection and love of nature, Phyllis dreams of being the next Punxsutawney Phil. Her family dismisses her dream based on the historical gender requirements of the role. Phyllis doesn’t let other people’s expectations limit her aspirations though.
When her uncle almost sleeps through his job duty, Phyllis wakes him and then accompanies him on his weather evaluation walk. She uses her keen observation skills and familiarity with the outdoors to prove that warm weather is on the way and that her uncle may be ready to step down from his post.
The story showcases positive reactions to adversity, steadfast pursuit of dreams, and remaining true to yourself. All this is accompanied by delightfully drawn characters.
Little Critter: I am Sharing by Mercer Mayer
Reviewed by Adam, Wisconsin Dad
We’re big Mercer Mayer fans around here, so my daughter P was psyched to see this book come through the door. Little Critter’s older sibling isn’t identified by gender, so in our two-daughter house, we usually refer to her as “the big sister,” which pleases our own resident big sister to no end. The art’s as excellent as ever—Mayer’s been drawing Little Critter for many years. (P mentioned to me that she thinks the critters, bucktoothed and furry, “might be beavers.”) The book features a long list of examples in which the older sibling grudgingly shares only the tail ends and smaller halves of her treats and activities: it’s amusingly honest about how siblings treat each other. My daughter has a new little sister; she seemed to really enjoy the book for its depiction of just how difficult it can be for kids to muster the urge to share.
Ten Little Kisses by Russell Julian
Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom
Ten Little Kisses is the CUTEST book! It’s so perfect for a toddler because
it has farm animals (which my son loves to name), it has rhymes (which he also loves), and there’s a countdown so he can count the hearts on each page. It’s adorable.
This book would be a great gift for little ones who love farm animals and love to count. The book begins with ten kisses flittering by and one by one, a different farm animal watches and then has a kiss land on them. My son’s favorite was eight because it was a picture of a pig and some mice, and he loved the pig. Each animal page also includes some sound that the animal makes, so it’s a great way to reinforce or teach animal sounds! I also like all the additional items in each picture, so that you can really take in each illustration and do a lot of counting and discussing of various things in the pictures!
Red Sled by Lita Judge
Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad
Cate and I read Red Sled by Lita Judge. The book is almost completely visually driven, but the story is clear and told well. The art is really cute, and exceptionally expressive. Cate had no trouble following the story, and she particularly enjoyed the sound effects I made as I read. She laughed at quite a few of the pages, and immediately asked for a second read-through as soon as we finished. The author/illustrator did an impressive job. Telling a story almost entirely through pictures isn’t always done well, but this book is a great example of visual storytelling done right.
National Geographic Little Kids: African Animal Alphabet by Beverly and Dereck Joubert
Reviewed by Lysa, New Hampshire Mom
This book is sensational—very worthy of National Geographic. The reading level was a bit above my first grader at first read-through, but when I read this to both of my kids, they absolutely loved it. Each letter of the alphabet represents a different animal found in Africa—and they are not everyday animals either! Very unique and an approach that had both my kids enraptured. The pictures are gorgeous and the quality you’d expect from National Geographic. Also ingenious is the way that the information and descriptive words for each animal match the alphabet letter.
Letter F: “Feisty bat-eared foxes frolic and play when nighttime falls. These furry hunters find food underground.”
While this is part of what raised the reading level in some cases, it was a fantastic little detail they threw in. My three-year-old has been carrying the book around with him everywhere he goes (luckily it has a sturdy hard cover) and my six-year-old has learned all the words and reads it to his brother often! Thank you for this book—it will be treasured and used as reference for many years!
Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole
Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom
All’s quiet on the Tucker farm until one day, a mysterious guest arrives and causes a commotion! My girls loved reading this book, and I loved the moral presented within the story. The farm animals get really upset when a peacock arrives on the farm and only struts around looking pretty while they do all the heavy lifting of providing for the farm. When the wise dog suggests that the hens trade places with the peacock, all the animals learn that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The simple language and colorful pictures will capture your child’s attention, while the simple lesson presented will make any parent fall in love with this children’s book.
I highly recommend this book for young children. This will make a great addition to your child’s library!
The Very Hungry Bear by Nick Bland
Reviewed by Karey, Texas Mom
An inspiring book of kindness, cooperation, and friendship, The Very Hungry Bear came into our lives at an opportune time. My kids had been arguing and tattling like crazy! This book reminded them how important it is and how nice life can be when we help each other. My kids really liked the two different bears in this book and could identify with the similarities and differences between them. I am sure that they saw themselves in the bears.
The problem in this story is that the polar bear has caught all of the fish, but has gotten lost and can’t find his home. When the brown bear “catches” the polar bear, they could argue and complain. Instead the polar bear shares his fish and the brown bear goes way out of his way to help the polar bear find a comfortable home. I like how this book helps my kids to remember that life can be much brighter when we choose to help each other out!
Who Will See Their Shadows This Year? by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by David Biedrzycki
Reviewed by Phyllis, Arizona Mom
Maybe Groundhog Day is not currently your favorite holiday of the year. But once you read Who Will See Their Shadows This Year?, that just might change. A dozen animals from across the globe want to be the center of attention on this day to drive winter out and let springtime begin. Why should the groundhog have all the fun every year? So each animal tries. There is just one catch. The weather changes all right, but just not in the way you might expect!
The illustrations by David Biedrzycki nearly speak for themselves, particularly through the animals’ eyes, which show such hope, passion, and enthusiasm that you will yearn for each to succeed in bringing spring. Who would have thought that a two-humped camel, a koala, and a pudgy panda could bring on everything from a sand storm to a blizzard? Or would you guess that a lemur and a peacock would make everything windy and muggy?
Only the groundhog, who rests peacefully under his comfy and colorful patchwork quilt during all this frantic activity, remembers the secret. You will love to read the ending, so get started today reading this delightful book. Then draw a big red circle around February 2 on your calendar to help you remember how much fun it is to initiate spring!
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
Reviewed by Christina, Mississippi Mom
Pete the Cat is kind of a cool dude. Not much gets him down. Dressed in his favorite shirt with its four stylin’ buttons, he is ready to greet the day with one of his characteristic ditties. But oh no! One by one, his buttons pop off and roll away. Nothing ruffles Pete’s fur, however, and he keeps movin’ on, until he realizes that he has one button that will never pop off. And so he can keep on keepin’ on.
My four boys liked this book for different reasons. My budding reader was eager to read the repetitive text: “Did Pete cry? Goodness, no! Buttons come and buttons go.” My four-year-old was excited to see that every time Pete lost a button, a new number would appear on the next page. My five-year-old liked hearing Mom singing Pete’s song, which you just can’t help but sing with a hepcat swing. My biggest boy liked that there is a link to download Pete’s song and a website to explore, all about that coolest of cats—Pete.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose! by Lucille Colandro, illustrated by Jared Lee
Reviewed by Beckie, Illinois Mom
My son loved the story and the illustrations. The rhymes had him giggling for more.
I liked reading it with him because I just cannot believe the imagination of the author, and all of the items she has the Old Lady eat!
A great read-aloud for Valentine’s Day, but a story that will be read over and over, because everyone loves the Old Lady!
National Geographic Kids: Planets by Elizabeth Carney
Reviewed by Kelli, Pennsylvania Mom
If your kiddos love learning about space as much as mine do, then this National Geographic Kids reader is not to be missed! Space clues, awesome graphics, and a quiz to stump your parents—my son (six) and daughter (eight) really enjoyed reading this together and trying to stump their dad with the questions at the end. Planets, a nonfiction level 2 reader, is also filled with fun facts like which planet has the weirdest spin, windiest weather, and tallest mountain. It even has the names and pronunciations of FIVE dwarf planets. (I only knew about Pluto!) As we read, my kids kept commenting and sharing space facts that they knew as well. We had a great conversation going! The book really sparked their interest. My daughter even commented that this is a good book to use for a space report or in science class at school. And with silly jokes scattered throughout the book, it’s good for a few laughs too!
Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain
Reviewed by Bruce, Michigan Dad
Starring Jules (As Herself) is a funny, quirky, and confident book, just like Jules. My daughter read this book in one day and loved it. Jules is a first grader growing up in New York City. She lives in an apartment with her parents and little brother, “Big Henry.” Her life is very normal, until one day in a restaurant with her mom and Big Henry, she is discovered by a casting director who convinces her to audition for a mouthwash commercial. Jules is thrilled, until she realizes the mouthwash is orange mouthwash. Ever since she got sick from orange sherbet, she cannot bear anything orange. Jules is not going to give up though. She is determined to find a way to make the audition work, so she seeks advice from her thoughtful mom, hilarious dad, supportive grandma, future best friend (a new student from London), and even her exasperating ex–best friend. Jules faces her fears and teaches young girls to have confidence, trust, and a sense of humor. Jules is a fun-loving girl that readers will immediately relate to and fall in love with.
Reviewed by Kevin, Michigan Dad
The undisputed master of gross and goofy humor has unloaded another masterpiece! Boys and girls will lose control and laugh themselves silly over the latest adventures of Captain Underpants. The “Tenth Epic Novel” by Dav Pilkey is filled with all the bits and pieces that made the previous nine favorites—dastardly villains, robotic pants, dinosaurs, time travel, two cool kids named Harold and George, and the greatest briefs-wearing hero of all time. Tippy Tinkletrousers has returned to seek vengeance against his arch-nemesis, Captain Underpants. It will take the combined might of Harold, George, and the captain (not to mention some cave people) to defeat Tippy and his tiny time-traveling duplicates. Will they do it before Tippy wipes away more of the timeline? Any child who loves over-the-top hilarious humor and interactive storytelling will simply devour Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers in one sitting. Pilkey’s art is as humorous as his words, which are very accessible to a wide range of readers. My girls could not wait to get their hands on this latest installment of what has become a classic series.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney
Reviewed by Rachel, Utah Mom
I start this book review with a confession. I had to explain to my children what a diary was. I kept my explanations simple and told them that a diary is a book you write in about what happens to you throughout your day and how you feel about it. As we read the book we talked about what they would write in their diaries, and what kind of pictures they would draw about their day. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel is a fun, imagination-inspiring book, but for my children it became an educational read.
My children really enjoyed the experiences Greg wrote about. They enjoyed how descriptive he was about what happened to him and how he felt about it. They LOVED that Greg had to dance with another boy because there were not enough girls.
They also really enjoyed the pictures throughout the story. I think that at their age the pictures help their imagination understand the story better. We stopped to look at all the pictures and discussed how creative the artist was in expressing what happened in the story with pictures.
Overall it is a great book. My seven-year-old loved this book. He now wants to read all of the “Diary” books on his own.
Love? Maybe. by Heather Hepler
Reviewed by Teri, Oregon Mom
Piper has a pessimistic outlook on Valentine’s Day, which happens to also occur on Piper’s very own birthday, but this year it may be different. Heather Hepler brings to readers the story of a young girl who has had bumps in life and has found herself disbelieving in love. With many challenges Piper may soon find herself realizing that love has always been closer than she ever realized before, and maybe her birthday being on Valentine’s Day was always something special.
Your birthday being on a holiday is always a tricky thing, but being born on Valentine’s Day and realizing that love can be hard to come by may just be a recipe for disaster. Piper works with a popular chocolatier named Jan the Candy Man after school, and her mother is a full-time florist, but Piper also finds herself helping out at home more than she may like. With a job and full-time school and keeping her grades up, Piper has her hands full with helping to raise her siblings while their mom is working. What keeps Piper going is her late-night talks with her neighbor Charlie, which is great except for one thing. Piper, while being pessimistic about love, truly wants to find someone special. Love may be closer than Piper thinks when along with her friends she creates a love potion in some truffles, which may just begin to open her eyes to what she has been missing.
With a colorful cast of characters and a compelling story, Love? Maybe. will capture hearts with more than the characters’ conversations, when truly love is not something to be cast aside, but something to be found and held on to. Heather Hepler cooks up something timeless in her fabulous release that keeps readers content until the last page.
January 8, 2013