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August 10, 2016


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

June 1, 2016

Marvelous May Book Reviews

For our May book reviews we wanted to change things up! Below you’ll find a wonderful, eclectic mix that features both parent and teacher favorites.

Happy May reading!


Ladybug Girl at the Beach by David Soman and Jacky Davis
Reviewed by Lyndsey, First-Grade Teacher, Wake Forest, North Carolina

I loved reading this story! It was the perfect book to read to my first graders and talk about the feeling of fear and being brave. Lulu is so excited for her first trip to the beach. Her family and her dog, Bingo, venture onto the sand ready for a day of fun and sun. However, when Lulu and Bingo reach the edge of the ocean the loud sound of the crashing waves and the huge surf make them fearful of going in. So they go off and find other fun beach activities to do! After some time Lulu loses her favorite pail in the ocean and must save it. This is where she becomes Ladybug Girl, and with all the bravery she can muster she goes into the ocean. She realizes it’s not so bad and that is where she spends the rest of her day!

What a great story to read to your child before going to the beach for the first time. They can be introduced to things they may encounter and you can have a conversation with them before you get there about trying new things and being brave. It is also a great way to introduce Ladybug Girl—maybe deep down inside we are all some type of superhero!

This book is good for:

  • Reading before going to the beach for the first time
  • Writing a story about yourself and creating your own “superhero”
  • Discussing feelings of fear and bravery


My Daddy and Me by Tina Macnaughton
Reviewed by Linda, Second-Grade Teacher, Oakdale, California

This is a delightful rhyming book with bears as the characters. The cub shares how s/he feels when spending time with his/her father. Each page includes a double-page illustration as well as one line of text. With each line, there is a picture of an applicable activity that human dads do with their own children. The love that is shared between a father and a child is clearly illustrated, in both the text and the art, in this adorable story.

Ideas for use in the classroom:

  • Before reading the book to the class, brainstorm a list of things the students like to do with their fathers.
  • Identify the rhyming words in the story.
  • Brainstorm a list of things that make our fathers special.
  • Discuss ways we can show our fathers that we love them.
  • Create a classroom bulletin board that includes the lists generated from the brainstorming mentioned above. Then pin up photos of each of the students’ fathers, as well as your own.
  • Make a Father’s Day card, or write a letter to Dad.
  • Even though this is a picture book that is written for very early readers, it would be great to use with older kids around Father’s Day. Older children could rewrite the book and include photos of their fathers and them doing the things mentioned in the book.
  • Invite the fathers in for a Donuts with Dads classroom activity.



My Dad! by Steve Smallman, Illustrated by Sean Julian
Reviewed by Cathy, Georgia Mom

If you’re looking for a really cute book to celebrate the unique bond between a father and child, My Dad! is the perfect book for you! Not only are the illustrations absolutely adorable, but the book is so great. It’s a rhyming book, which was great for my three-year-old. We loved the pictures and he laughed numerous times at what was being said about dads.

The book explores all the different things that dads do with their kids. They jump in puddles, support them when riding bikes, cheer ’em up when they’re crying or sad, and always love them. It’s really sweet, and there are some really funny parts of the book.

It’d be a great book for a new dad for his first Father’s Day, or for any dad on Father’s Day for that matter. Definitely give this one a read and I promise you’ll love it as much as we did.



The Boy Who Cried Ninja by Alex Latimer
Reviewed by Kimberley, New Jersey Mom

The Boy Who Cried Ninja is a delightful book about being truthful. Much like the old fable about the boy who cried wolf, this book is about a young boy who tells tall tales and gets his parents very upset with his lying. But this book has a twist ending you will never see coming that will have your children in stitches, laughing out loud as they read.

The book is a quick and easy read with a great moral that even small children will be able to understand. Telling the truth is ALWAYS better than telling lies. I really enjoyed reading this book with my two little ones, and really loved hearing them laughing along at the story as I read it to them. I’m sure you and your children will enjoy this story as much as our family did! This book will make a wonderful addition to your child’s library!

Huck Runs Amuck! by Sean Taylor, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Reviewed by Paul, New York Dad

Cate and I read Huck Runs Amuck! and it was a big hit. Overall, it was a fun story with imaginative scenarios that kept Cate’s (and my) attention from beginning to end. There were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments as we made our way through the book, and more than once Cate slapped a hand down on the page as I was turning it so she could look at the scene a few seconds longer.

The story built up drama and then mixed it with repetitive rhymes that eased the tension enough so that it didn’t become stressful for Cate (she tends to get very involved in stories). We paused at the climax of each scene to speculate on what would happen next, and the resolution was usually met with a laugh. I could tell long before we got to the end that we had a winner, and Cate took the book when we were done and went through it beginning to end trying to repeat the story as best she could.

A great story with fun art. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Scooter in the Outside by Anne Bowen, Illustrated by Abby Carter
Reviewed by Elaina, Third-Grade Teacher, Chicago, Illinois

Scooter the dog loves going for walks. He loves barking at other dogs, he loves running, and he loves sniff-sniff-sniffing. What Scooter doesn’t love is stopping at the corner and heading back home. One morning, however, the front door is accidentally left open and the pup decides to take himself for a walk. He enjoys his romp until he makes the choice not to stop at the corner. Suddenly, he finds himself on the “other side,” and his good time turns noisy and frightening! Fire trucks are whizzing by, dump trucks are rumbling, and Scooter is scared! How will he make it home to safety?

This story helps show that the people who love us make choices that are in our best interests, although we might not always agree with them. It is also a great springboard for discussions about making responsible decisions, even when there isn’t someone around to see you.

This story would be great for lessons concerning:

  • Responsibility
  • Safety
  • Character traits



Clementine and the Spring Trip
by Sara Pennypacker, Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Reviewed by Christina, Mississippi Mom

Clementine and the Spring Trip is a clever and funny book. A third grader named Clementine is the star of six books, this one being number six. Clementine is a peppy girl who is excited for her spring trip to Plimoth Plantation, but there are other things in need of her attention as well. As a surprise for her pregnant mother, Clementine is helping her father with a secret mission from the Pentagon. Okay, fine, the Pentagon is really a 5-sided table for their soon-to-be five-membered family, but it’s a big deal! So is the new girl at school, whose name is really-and-truly Olive! Clementine is not sure if she wants another girl to have a food name like hers. Even worse, Olive has a secret language that Clementine can’t get the hang of.

Okay, fine, plus the spring trip is with the fourth graders who have a lot of rules for Clementine and her classmates. But the worst thing of all is that Clementine has to travel to Plimoth Plantation on BUS SEVEN (aka “The Cloud,” because of the bus’s horrible stink!).

And then, there is all that waiting: waiting for her apple seedling to grow into a tree, waiting for her teacher’s wife to have her overdue baby, waiting to see if Watercress (her brother) will ever realize that he is NOT a comedian, and waiting for April’s National Draw-a-Bird Day to arrive!

Clementine is a lively and likable character who is believable. Her big ideas and her misadventures are very funny. Loyal Clementine fans will be eager to get their noses in this new book! They will also appreciate Clementine’s decision to be herself. Clementine and the Spring Trip is a book that the whole family will love. My brothers and I did!


Ivy + Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Reviewed by Phyllis, Arizona Mom

Best friends Ivy and Bean find themselves excluded from one summer camp (Girl Power 4-Ever) because they are too young and another (Puppet Fun) because they are too old. But they yearn to show their own “Girl Power 4-Ever” despite their youth. So these seven-year-old girls set out to create their own version of an alternative camp experience in Monkey Park. They use a copy of the activity sheet from Girl Power 4-Ever and their own imaginations to create a week-long adventure.

First, they choose the name: Camp Flaming Arrow. They decide that a camp needs rules, so their first is “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt.” Their tent and knot-tying attract the attention of two other children in the park, Franny and Harlan. By the second day, Ivy and Bean promise Franny and Harlan that a Komodo dragon will be found even though they are “very, very rare in Monkey Park.” Sure enough, Ivy catches a “Komodo” in her net before the camp day is over!

Back at home, Bean has to listen to her older sister brag about being chosen to be part of a routine at Girl Power 4-Ever. Bean thinks this combination cheer and dance is dumb. But on Wednesday, she drags a metal washtub to the park to create music, puts thumbtacks in the soles of everyone’s shoes, and tells them to dance to their heart’s content—until Mom shows up to stop the noise in the neighborhood and recover the tub. Physical exercise is the next focus, with strength training starting with picking up a grape.

Thursday they learn first aid, and the Heimlich maneuver is the first technique. Everyone gets to practice using fake blood. Then everyone turns into zombies and wanders right through the Puppet Fun group, scaring some of the younger kids badly.

At week’s end, their last topic is famous women. Ivy is the first to play the role of Boudicca, Queen of the Britons, fighting Roman soldiers to their death. The lead shifts from camper to camper. When no one wants to be a Roman soldier anymore, they substitute trash blowing in the wind. After a while, all the campers end up in the water fountain, along with the garbage they collected.

Find out how older sister Nancy compares her Girl Power 4-Ever experience with Camp Flaming Arrow by reading this hilarious and engaging chapter book with your favorite second or third grader!



National Geographic Kids: Everything Battles by John Perritano and James Spears
Reviewed by Becky, Illinois Mom

We were elated when we received our latest review selection to find National Geographic Kids: Everything Battles!

I have found, through helping in the library at my son’s school, that as boys get older they are more reluctant to read. Well, National Geographic Kids has a wonderful line of nonfiction “Everything” books, chock-full of fascinating facts and stories alongside the full-color photos that National Geographic is renowned for worldwide, all in a kid-friendly format. This series is a hit with boys, and of course, girls read them too!

Everything Battles is everything you ever wanted to know about battles, from “What is a battle?” to “What is victory?” to battles on land, at sea, and in the air. Everything Battles covers it all, again in a kid-friendly format.

This is a beautiful full-color book, and each topic is covered in two pages, making it just enough pertinent information for young minds to absorb without being overwhelmed. Each topic also opens the door for more questions to ask about the subject matter, encouraging research.

We already subscribe to National Geographic Kids magazine, so my son was excited to read this book to me and with me, and we both learned a lot of information about battles. He also had a revelation though discussion that war doesn’t really solve anything, which made it a difficult yet necessary teaching moment.

I highly recommend this series to any family with a child who craves to learn more about one subject, and also to any family that wants to teach their children more about one subject.

I also recommend this series to adults, because you should never stop learning, and this series is a way to learn more about one subject in an easy-to-read format.

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May 14, 2013