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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 April Reviews

HONEYBEE

Sesame Street: Night, Night, Elmo! by Matt Mitter, illustrated by Ernie Kwiat
Reviewed by JJ, Virginia Mom

It’s hard to believe April is already here and it’s time for another review! My children and I were excited as we opened our package. We were happy to see Night, Night, Elmo! There were squeals of joy from BOTH my two-year-old-son and my five-year-old daughter. Elmo has been a longtime furry friend in our household.

The vibrant illustrations of our familiar friend and the rest of his crew captivated us. The simple explanation of Elmo’s bedtime routine worked well for my young son and older daughter. Both of my children LOVED the flaps on each page. My kids couldn’t wait to get to the next page to discover what Elmo would do next.

I knew the book was a hit when my son loudly uttered, “AGAIN!”

As a parent I liked that the flaps were thicker. The thicker flaps should hold up against ripping and tearing. This is important with a treasured book.

My family and I hope you’ll consider adding Night, Night, Elmo! to your collection too.

 

Ballet Bunny by Mandy Stanley
Reviewed by Jennie, Ohio Mom

What little girl doesn’t love ballet? In this story, all little ones will find a character to love in Lettuce Bunny. My daughter liked the book instantly. The illustrations are darling, but the merits of the book go beyond the cute pictures. The story begins with Lettuce finding inspiration in a picture of a ballerina. She follows her dream into a bustling city and eventually ballet class. Lettuce encounters minor obstacles and overcomes them through ingenuity and hard work. Following her starring role, a tired Lettuce is left to walk home into the woods alone. Her family, who clapped through the whole show, has forgotten her. Then her brothers and sisters begin treating her differently. Through their relationship Lettuce rediscovers how much she really enjoys just being herself, a bunny wild and free. It is not often that a book comes along that balances reaching for your dreams and appreciating where you are.

Lessons:

  • Differences between town and city life
  • What is ballet?
  • Making a list of things that are great about your life right where you are

 

Curious George® Animals Puzzle Book created by Margret and H. A. Rey
Reviewed by Adam, Wisconsin Dad

A mixed bag, this one. Our 3.5-year-old was plenty enthused with this puzzle book when it showed up, and liked the Curious George–themed rhyming stanzas showing George in different locations: school, a farm, a zoo. Each page has a facing picture that’s been cut into four puzzle pieces. The puzzles are simple, as the matching pictures are also printed underneath the pieces…but once the pieces are pried out and then reassembled, they tend to fall out far too easily. P got increasingly frustrated as the pieces kept falling out when she turned the pages, and eventually gave up on the book entirely. Decent design, only so-so execution.

 

I Love You Mommy Duck by Dawn Richards, illustrated by Heidi D’hamers
Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom

My almost three-year-old son and I read I Love You, Mommy Duck, and we loved it. It’s the sweetest story about Mommy Duck and Little Duck spending Mother’s Day together. They start off by packing a picnic for the day and head out to spend the entire day together. I’m sure every mom would agree that spending the whole day with your child is the perfect day! While they’re basking in the sun, they watch the clouds drift by and Little Duck asks Mommy Duck what her perfect day would be.

Mommy Duck shares a few different things that could make a perfect day, and then she asks Little Duck the same question. (We don’t know if Little Duck is a boy or a girl, which makes the story even better, because you can let your child decide what Little Duck is!) Little Duck shares a few things that would make the perfect day.

At the end, they realize that they didn’t do any of the things they talked about, but it didn’t matter, because they spent their entire day together, which made it the most perfect day!

My son really loved this book. He liked that they spent the day together and were always together in all the different possible perfect-day scenarios. I think this would be a great book for all ages, but especially kids aged 0–5!

 

FIREFLY

Ready or Not, Here Comes Scout! by Jill Abramson and Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Deborah Melmon
Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad

Cate and I read Ready or Not, Here Comes Scout! for our April book. The art is really cute, and we took frequent breaks just to check out what all the dogs were doing in the background. The story itself was fun, and primarily taught the lesson to not be an overly aggressive friend.

It seems like there are so many stories that try to help kids overcome shyness, but rarely do I see one that teaches kids to dial back the enthusiasm a little, which is just as important a lesson to learn. Cate is a very open and friendly kid, and sometimes she doesn’t realize that other children need a warm-up period when they meet new friends. After watching Taco’s reaction to Scout’s rambunctious introduction, Cate commented that maybe Scout needed to give Taco some space and allow him to get used to Scout before trying to get him to play, so I think the lesson sunk in.

All in all, a great book that taught an important lesson in a cute, gentle manner.

 

Dinosaur Dig by Penny Dale
Reviewed by Lysa, New Hampshire Mom

Whether they’re boys or girls, it seems all kids love dinosaurs and counting. This book was a huge hit with my three-year-old. He loved that the dinosaurs were digging something special and that he got to count along. Each page is filled with colorful illustrations, dinosaurs, construction equipment, and a big mess! Each page was a new step in the building of a final surprise pool and swim park and my son loved to count his way to the finale. This was a very good story, a learning experience, and a fun visual experience. I definitely recommend this book for all toddlers, boys and girls alike.

 

My Mom’s the Best by Rosie Smith, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom

My Mom’s the Best is a cute short story about a mother’s love. My children loved reading this out loud and couldn’t stop laughing at the illustrations. The pictures show different animal moms going to great lengths to show how much they love their child.

The book is a simple, fun, and quick good-night read for any child. Moms will get a kick out of the pictures and will agree that a mother’s love can never be matched. I really enjoyed reading this with my children and believe you will too. This book is my favorite good-night book to read aloud to my children.

 

National Geographic Kids: Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum

Reviewed by Karey, Texas Mom

National Geographic authors have written some of my favorite nonfiction books for kids of all ages. Everything Spring is another great book for kids. While designed to teach young kids about how spring “tiptoes” in, Everything Spring also caught the attention of my seven-year-old, who sat down immediately to read it to her younger brother. They loved looking at the many beautiful photographs on every page. Nonfiction books are often dry, especially for young children. This book makes the facts seem more like a story as it takes the reader through the magic of spring from the new sprouting plants to the baby animals. This book even teaches simple life cycles and weather! This is a great find that my kids have already read many times over.

 

Earth Day, Birthday! by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Violet Kim

Reviewed by Mina, Oregon Mom

 

Earth Day, Birthday! was a wonderful read. April 22 is Earth Day and this book was delightful to read. The illustrations by Violet Kim are delightful and each page has a message with the Earth Day theme. The story is repetitive with the monkey going around and saying “It’s not Earth Day! It’s my birthday!” and all of the jungle animals disagreeing with him. The rhyming words were easy and fun for my seven-year-old to read and the theme of reuse and recycle was present in every page. As a parent, it’s hard to teach kids about the impact we have on the environment and this book was a good way to segue into a talk about how we need to help take care of our planet. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book—you will just have to see if the animals believe Monkey in the end about his birthday.

SEESAW

Nic Bishop: Lizards by Nic Bishop
Reviewed by Phyllis, Arizona Mom

I never knew I could love lizards until I read Nic Bishop’s captivating Lizards. His crisp, clear photographs and illuminating descriptions hold your and your young reader’s attention from cover to cover. Lizards are also called geckos, dragons, skinks, monitors, chameleons, and iguanas. They come in an astounding array of sizes, colors, shapes, and capabilities. They inhabit virtually every ecosystem on our planet and adapt so well that predators have a tough time even spotting them, since most can change colors to fit into their immediate surroundings. Their survival skills allow many of them to break off their tails with little bleeding, a handy escape from many attacks. No wonder these animals have been able to survive 150 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs!

Lizards range in size from the Caribbean dwarf gecko at less than one inch to the Indonesian Komodo dragon at ten feet! While most lizards lay eggs that hatch, a few produce live young, much like mammals. New lizards are immediately on their own, without any parents to protect them or teach them how to thrive. Nevertheless, depending on the species, their lifespan can range from 5 to 20 years. Lizards have many predators ready to consume them, so they have adapted eyes that move in different directions independent of each other, the ability to change color, odd shapes (such as the legless glass lizard), and bizarre moves to escape. They may burrow, shoot poisonous blood from their eyes, “fly” using webbed legs, sacrifice a tail, or inflate themselves to become too large to swallow. Some have thorny spikes to make biting them a difficult and painful experience. Others, like the basilisk lizard, can race across the surface of a pond on webbed feet at 65 miles per hour, taking more than 20 steps per second.

Nic Bishop has been a nature photographer since his childhood. His work has taken him to Bangladesh, Sudan, and New Guinea from his native England. He first worked on books for adults, but found that writing for children was much more rewarding. He has won many awards, among which are the prestigious Robert F. Sibert Award, Orbis Pictus Award, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

Young children will be fascinated with the photographs from their first glimpse. Older children and independent readers will go back again and again to soak up the details of the diverse facts about each unique animal. Get this book TODAY to start enjoying the stunning visual and literary comments on some of our planet’s odd and beautiful inhabitants, lizards!

 

Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack
Reviewed by Christina, Mississippi Mom

Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack is the story of two friends, Bunny and Mouse, who see the world in very different ways. Mouse is a grouchy pessimist, while Bunny is an ever-hopeful optimist (to a fault!). Going on a picnic, all Mouse can see is the bad, uncomfortable, ugly aspects of the situation, while Bunny points out the good of it all. Eventually, Mouse loses his cool and brings Bunny down to his pit of misery with him. Seeing his friend so upset, Mouse realizes what a downer he’s been and makes humble, heartfelt amends.

We enjoyed this simple book. There is a lot of cause and effect in the storyline, which is highly interesting to a young child. The entire text is comprised of four words, which my budding readers enjoyed reading aloud. The full-spread pictures tell most of the story, and my boys were happy to narrate the goings-on. Their favorite part? The lightning strike at the end of the book, of course! Definitely a book we will be reading over and over again!

 

Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch created by James Dean
Reviewed by Beckie, Illinois Mom

If you are new to Pete the Cat, this book is a good introduction. If you are a Pete the Cat fan, then you will be as excited as I was to see that Pete has graduated to the reader format.

Pete is hungry and makes a sandwich. A really big sandwich. It’s too big for one cool cat, so he decides to share his creation with his friends.

I love the artwork in this book. James Dean created Pete the Cat over ten years ago, based on his own pet, and now his wonderful paintings are available for everyone to own via the Pete the Cat books.

My son was very excited to read this Pete the Cat story, as was I. We love Pete the Cat!

Pete’s Big Lunch is a My First I Can Read! book, which is ideal for sharing with emergent readers. It is a Guided Reading Level F. I think it has an interesting plot and enough challenging words to keep even a more advanced K–1 reader engaged through the end, and I feel it would be a great addition to any young reader’s library.

 

A Butterfly Is Patient  by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
Reviewed by Kelli, Pennsylvania Mom

As soon as we turned to the first page of this beautifully illustrated book, my kids and I were oohing and aahing. For two years, we lived within minutes of a gorgeous butterfly house and fell in love with these amazing fluttering creatures. I thought we knew quite a bit about butterflies, but as we read this book together, we learned several new facts and were introduced to many new species!

Did you know that the largest butterfly in the world has a wingspan of up to one foot and the smallest one’s wingspan is less than one third of an inch? Or that caterpillars eat poisonous plants so that they become poisonous as adults to protect themselves from predators? We had no idea! Along with these fun facts, we enjoyed reading the names printed around the colorful butterflies as well like Southern Dogface, Great Purple Hairstreak, Ruddy Daggerwing, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail—just to name a few. We also loved how the author perfectly described these insects—creative, helpful, protective, and even magical.

My eight-year-old daughter says that she thinks this is a very interesting story for anyone who loves butterflies. What a spectacular springtime picture book!

 

Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Reviewed by Bruce, Michigan Dad

Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk is about Stink and his friends waiting on the latest book in the Nightmare on Zombie Street series to be released. Stink wants to be first in line at the bookstore and is very excited to participate in the town’s Midnight Zombie Walk with his friends. Stink and his best friend, Webster, keep themselves busy by earning money to buy the book. They sell weird smells for people to buy and work hard on their zombie costumes for the Zombie Walk. My daughter, who is in third grade, thought it was an easy book to read. She liked this book because it’s creative. She said her favorite part was at the Midnight Zombie Walk when everybody dresses up like creepy, weird zombies and the street is decorated like a spooky haunted house with bats, brains, cobwebs, and spiders. She would recommend this book for first and second graders and anyone who likes zombies.

LUCKY

Disney Learning: Wonderful World of Sharks

Reviewed by Charlene, Florida Mom

This wonderful book from Disney makes learning about sharks fun! This book will keep your shark lover entertained the entire way through. Each page is guided by one of your friends from Finding Nemo! Disney does a great job of combining real photos with illustrations of your favorite Disney characters. You will get a chance to learn about all kinds of sharks, from smallest to largest, from slowest to fastest, from most common to rarest. You will find it all in this amazing book. Even my daughter could not put this down; she wanted to see what her friends from Disney had to say about the sharks.

The Sea Mammal Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Thomas Leonard
Reviewed by Rachel, Utah Mom

The Sea Mammal Alphabet Book was a very educational book. We all learned a lot about animals that we thought we already knew about. This book was perfect timing for my little girl. She is doing an animal report on dolphins. She is in kindergarten, so the information was perfect for the type of report she is doing. It is right at her level, with the perfect size of information bites that we need for her report. She loved seeing the pictures of all the different kind of dolphins.

The children loved the pictures of the animals. We all learned about animals we have never heard of before. My son is in second grade and struggles to enjoy reading. He was so fascinated by the information and pictures in the book that he chose to read the book for his reading time homework. There were a lot of large words that he needed help with, but he understood the information that the author was trying to convey. He was most fascinated by the blue whale. It was hard for him to imagine such a large creature. I feel the author did a great job comparing the size to something that he could relate to.

This book is a great educational help. The information is interesting enough and not overwhelmingly technical. It is a prefect learning tool for younger children.

 

TAB

Return to Me by Justina Chen
Reviewed by Teri, Oregon Mom

Return to Me is a poignant tale of the hardships of everyday life. Imbued with disappointment, doubt, and betrayal, this novel gives a view of life through the eyes of young adult Rebecca Muir just as she is about to leave for college. The women in Rebecca’s family have a secret that they try to hide: they have a sense of premonition. But what these women see is not for the faint of heart; their truths are normally in the faults of life, and Rebecca, or Rebel, has a premonition she is desperately trying to hide from. Something life-changing will be happening and her move to New York for college, she feels, may be the very thing beginning it.

Rebel has the perfect boyfriend, Jackson, but long-distance relationships rarely work out. Rebel will soon find that this truth is a hard thing to bear as her plans for college are turning upside down. Reb wanted to end her relationship with her boyfriend before leaving, but she did not. Reb wanted to go to college on her own terms, but now her family is moving with her. Although a screaming vision haunts her, Reb doesn’t know the shock she is in for yet.

Growing up is hard, life is challenging and full of doubt and disappointment, but there are people in your life you want to rely upon, like family. What happens soon in Return to Me is the terrible accumulation of lies as her father uproots his family, only to inform them in their new home that he is done, that he has been with someone new. Ripped from home, family torn apart, future up in the air, Reb does not know who to turn to. The bitter betrayal of her father and the decline of her future prospects and her family have left Reb conflicted and questioning Jackson. If someone like her father could do this to her, could Jackson? The dominating emotions throughout the book are doubt and loss, as everything Reb has known is turned upside down. The truths she thought she knew in the world are becoming muddled and lost, leaving Reb trying to sort out the future of her mother and brother, while at the same time dealing with emotions about herself.

Author Justina Chen has created a story around a modern-day dilemma concerning the preconceived notions of “forever.” Nothing is ever planned or delivered as we may well want it, and the challenges that we face may be daunting and heartrending, but there is some lesson to learn through everything and that is a lesson of the heart. While your plans and world may seem to be crumbling, your love and passion can drive you to rise above the darkness and doubt that may surround you at times. There can be a future but it is one to be worked for. Return to Me is a story filled with love and the quest for what happens next. When times seem hard, there may be something that comes your way. It’s not always what you wanted or expected, but it may be just what you need at just the right time.

Reb’s premonition may have been lost to her in the beginning, but she knows now to trust in herself and see what things may come. Just because you plan something does not truly make it so. The future has ups and downs, and getting up can be the hardest thing yet you need to do.

 

 

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One Response

  1. cynthia

    Does scholastic still offer a summer program? Boks ordered at the end of the school year that will arrive every couple of weeks during the summer months?

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April 8, 2013