Archive for the ‘Picture Book Review’ Category

Review of I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, pictures by Shelagh McNicolas

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

I Am Jazz

by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

pictures by Shelagh McNicholas

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017

I Am Jazz is a simple picture book about the experience of one transgender girl.

Her experience is presented simply, in child-friendly language. She talks about her best friends, Samantha and Casey, and the things all three of them love to do.

But I’m not exactly like Samantha and Casey.

I have a girl brain but a boy body.
This is called transgender.

I was born this way!

She tells us that at first her family was confused, they’d call her a boy despite her insistence that she was a girl.

Then one amazing day, everything changed. Mom and Dad took me to meet a new doctor who asked me lots and lots of questions. Afterward, the doctor spoke to my parents and I heard the word “transgender” for the very first time.

That night at bedtime, my parents both hugged me and said, “We understand now. Be who you are. We love you no matter what.”

This made me smile and smile and smile.

This book was published in 2014, but our library has only recently purchased it. Better late than never! It’s in the nonfiction section – in juvenile biography under “Jennings” – so no child is going to accidentally stumble across it in the picture books. That’s a bit of a shame, because it’s a simple explanation of what it’s like to be transgender – but at least we won’t have parents complaining that they don’t want their child exposed to this. To find this book, you will have to look for it.

I do recommend looking for it! A lovely book to explain to children what life is like for the transgender classmates they may end up encountering. Or, for that matter, to understand what they themselves may be going through. Stories go a long way to counteract bullying. This book tells a true story in a positive way.

transkidspurplerainbow.org
penguin.com/youngreaders

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Jump, Little Wood Ducks, by Marion Dane Bauer, photography by Stan Tekiela

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Jump, Little Wood Ducks

story by Marion Dane Bauer
photography by Stan Tekiela

Adventure Publications, Cambridge, Minnesota, 2017. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017

Here’s a photo illustrated picture book that should work well in story time – with facts about wood ducks in the back.

I had no idea before reading this book that wood ducks build their nests in trees, about 30 feet above the ground. Here’s what happens to those wood duck babies (This is from the back of the book):

Within 24 to 48 hours of hatching, the ducklings are eager to jump out of the nest and get started in life. Before leaving the nest, the mother allows her ducklings to climb and jump all over her. Mama sits patiently while the youngsters jump around like popcorn popping. She doesn’t help the babies jump – they do it all on their own.

When the mother decides it’s time to leave, she flies to the ground and calls softly to the ducklings. Each duckling climbs swiftly to the cavity entrance and launches into the air. They jump one at a time or go out 2 or 3 together. The entire process of leaving the nest takes under 2 minutes. All ducklings need to exit quickly so that the whole group can stay together with their mother.

But the main text of the book imagines that the last 3 ducklings are reluctant to jump. It’s awfully high. They’d rather stay comfortable in their nest. There’s a nice refrain with the last duckling just whispering “Uh-uh.” The language is simple and makes a suspenseful story. I wouldn’t want to jump, either!

The gorgeous photo illustrations are what makes this book wonderful. The author weaves in facts about wood ducks as the mother duck tries to entice her children out – like the yummy things they’d eat (water bugs) and the habitat they’d jump into. The pictures have plenty of variety, but above all show the adorable ducklings. Stan Tekiela must be an incredibly patient photographer to have captured these so perfectly.

adventurepublications.net

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Octopus Escapes Again! by Laurie Ellen Angus

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Octopus Escapes Again!

by Laurie Ellen Angus

Dawn Publications, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This beginning science book is so simple, our library system is shelving it with picture books – but it’s also full of facts.

Facts about the common octopus are indeed presented as a story – the story of an octopus spending her day looking for food – and meanwhile escaping the predators who want to eat her.

Along the way, we learn what sort of creatures an octopus likes to eat, but especially the clever ways an octopus escapes being eaten.

The illustrations are gorgeous, and with a wide amount of variety. Done with cut paper, there’s a nice realistic effect.

I already knew that an octopus is clever. This one escapes by squeezing into an empty shell, by using its ink to confuse an attacker, by speeding away with a blast of water through its siphon, by releasing an arm, and by quickly changing color to camouflage itself.

The story is simple enough to read to preschoolers, but there is a paragraph of facts about each escape technique. At the end of the book there are five pages of back matter, complete with ideas for enrichment activities.

A fantastic choice for beginning science lessons.

dawnpub.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Niko Draws a Feeling, by Bob Raczka, illustrations by Simone Shin

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Niko Draws a Feeling

by Bob Raczka
illustrations by Simone Shin

Carolrhoda Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Review written in 2017

Niko likes to draw feelings.

When Niko was inspired,
it felt like a window
opening in his brain.

An idea would flit through the
open window like a butterfly,
flutter down to his stomach,

then along his arm and fingers to his pencils,
where it would escape onto his paper in a whirlwind of color.

No one understands Niko’s drawings and what they mean. If he draws the hard work of a mother robin building her nest, they expect to see a bird or a nest – not hard work. If he draws the warm of the sun on his face, they expect to see the sun or his face, not the warm.

His friends don’t understand. His parents don’t understand. His teacher doesn’t understand.

But then a girl named Iris moves next door, and she gets it. When she looks at Niko’s drawings, she feels something.

The next thing Niko draws is the feeling of friendship.

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. Honestly, I’m still a little skeptical about drawing feelings. And a little skeptical that this new girl could catch on so well.

But – there’s something about that feeling when somebody finally gets you. This book delivered that feeling and warmed my heart.

lernerbooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Toad on the Road, by Stephen Shaskan

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Toad on the Road

A Cautionary Tale

by Stephen Shaskan

Harper, 2017. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017.

Here’s a book that cries out to be read aloud in a storytime. There’s a toad in the road! Four different critters in alliterative vehicles come down the road toward the toad, and we’re encouraged:

Everyone shout:
Look out! Look out!

Then we’ve got a spread-filling “SKID! SCREECH! BAM!”

No, the toad isn’t hurt, but the other creature has run off the road and crashed. And they now scold the oblivious toad:

Hey, little toad, get out of the way!
You could get hurt. That’s no place to play.
Vamoose! Skedaddle! Without delay!
What do you think your mama would say?

The final animal is the toad’s mama! And she’s driving a tow truck to take away the other crashed vehicles. They smile when they see each other, and she gets him off the road with a hug.

There are little blips where the rhyme isn’t perfect – but my main impression of the book is that I have to try it at my next Toddler Storytime. I can’t wait to have everybody shout, “Look out! Look out!” And the bonus is that it’s a fun way to talk about how the road is not a safe place to play.

stephenshaskan.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Giant of Jum, by Elli Woollard and Benji Davies

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

The Giant of Jum

by Elli Woollard
and Benji Davies

Henry Holt and Company, 2017. First published in the United Kingdom in 2015. 28 pages.

Rhyming picture books are often awful. But when done right – like The Giant of Jum — they beg to be read aloud.

The Giant of Jum was a grumpy old grouch
who was constantly grizzling and grumbling.
And when he was hungry, he’d slobber and slouch
and say, “Oh, how my tummy is rumbling!”

“Fee!” he said, and “Fi!” he said, and “Fo!” he said, and “Fum!
How I pine, how I wish, for a child on a dish.
Little children are yummy yum yum!”

So he sets out to find some tasty children. He continues to say those four syllables, but in a different order each time – resulting in a nice rhyme.

He does find children, and they are delighted to have some tall about. Why, he can help them get their ball down from the top of a fountain and rescue their cat from a tree!

The ending is reminiscent of Troll and the Oliver — because when someone thinks he’s hungry for children, who wouldn’t be happier with cake?

This one isn’t terribly profound, and there may be a few holes in the story – but it sure is fun to read. I’m going to set it aside for storytime.

benjidavies.com
mackids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy, by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy

by Laurel Snyder
illustrated by Emily Hughes

Chronicle Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

It’s another beginning chapter book about Charlie and his little brother Mouse. In this book their grandfather, Grumpy, comes to visit.

This book hits just the right note, telling about interactions of the boys with Grumpy. There are four short stories. The parents don’t come into it at all (except being referred to a bit), but each story is strictly between the boys and Grumpy.

My favorite story is “Pouncing.” Here’s how it begins:

Charlie woke up.
Mouse woke up.
“Grumpy is here!” said Charlie.
“Should we pounce him?” asked Mouse.
“Of course!” said Charlie.
They snuck downstairs.

Grumpy was in the kitchen.
Grumpy was drinking coffee.

Mouse looked sad.
“Why are you sad?” Grumpy asked Mouse.
“We wanted to pounce you,” said Mouse.
“So pounce me!” said Grumpy.
“We can only pounce
when you are sleeping,”
said Charlie.
“It is a rule,” said Mouse.
“That makes sense,” said Grumpy. “But you will have to get up very early to catch me sleeping.”

As the story continues, Grumpy “rests his eyes” and his nose begins to snore. I like that the author doesn’t tell us what the boys decide to do. We know what will happen!

There’s all kinds of charm in these stories. They’re suitable for a beginning reader to read themselves or for a young one to listen and enjoy. Grandparents will especially enjoy reading these to their grandchildren.

laurelsnyder.com
chroniclekids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

What’s Your Favorite Color?

by Eric Carle and Friends

Godwin Books (Henry Holt and Company), 2017. 36 pages.

This is another book in support of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, like What’s Your Favorite Animal?. Here again, a set of distinguished illustrators are asked a simple question – and they all answer in their own unique way.

This time the question is “What’s your favorite color?”

Some artists give long and thoughtful answers, like Rafael López:

The color I choose will surprise you because it dares to be different. No matter what others may say, artists know that gray is magic. It gets along with all the other colors and knows how to make them sparkle. Gray is smart and UNIQUE!

Like the clever octopus, my good friend gray knows how to change colors to communicate. It comes in many different shades – from warm to really cool! In some parts of the world, this flexible color even changes its spelling to grey.

When things get noisy and mixed up, gray is like a calm, deep breath.

Other artists, like Mike Curato, are short and sweet:

My favorite color is Mint because I love mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Or Lauren Castillo:

I love the way the snow magically paints the world white.

Or Frann Preston-Gannon:

I love flaming orange. It is the color of the tiger burning bright as it creeps through the grasses of the jungle.

This isn’t a book for preschool storytime, but it is a book for thoughtful reading over and over again. It’s for looking at things differently. It’s for thinking about your own favorite color. And it’s for enjoying the glorious paintings.

I’m not sure why they chose the order they did of the illustrators, except the obvious choice of putting Eric Carle first. The colors aren’t in the order of the rainbow, and a few colors are almost the same. (For example, Melissa Sweet chooses Maine Morning Gray.) At the back, there’s a bit about each illustrator, and the names are in a colored font. I find myself wishing they had used each illustrator’s favorite color for their name, but they didn’t.

All the same, this is a lovely book. It would be perfect for sharing with a budding artist to get them thinking about and seeing colors with fresh eyes.

What do I mean by seeing colors with fresh eyes? Well, Philip C. Stead’s page is a fine example (though the illustration is what makes it perfect):

A green frog is green
and sometimes socks are green –
just like yarn.
An alligator is green
unless it hides underwater
and then it’s
two white eyes.
Green grass is green
and apples can be green.
A tree is green
except when it’s yellow
red
or nothing at all.
You know what?
A green elephant is green
when it wants to be
and that’s why today
my favorite color
is green.

carlemuseum.org
mackids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Teacher’s Pet, by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

The Teacher’s Pet

by Anica Mrose Rissi
illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Disney Hyperion, 2017. 36 pages.

Okay this book is extremely silly. So silly, I’m not even tempted to complain it’s not even slightly realistic.

It’s told as a straight story. Here’s the beginning:

On the day the science project hatched,
our whole class was amazed.
We’d never seen Mr. Stricter so excited.
“I always wanted a pet,” he said.

Our tadpoles grew and grew.
Soon it was time to release them into the wild.
But Mr. Stricter said we could keep just one.
We chose Bruno.

However, it quickly becomes apparent in the illustrations that Bruno is not a frog. The book doesn’t say so, but we can see that Bruno is a hippopotamus. Mr. Stricter happily comments on how fast he’s growing.

In this book, it’s the kids who see the down side of the pet. As he gets bigger and bigger and bigger:

Everyone could see that
Bruno was trouble.
Everyone except Mr. Stricter.

As Bruno destroys things because of his sheer size, Mr. Stricter happily comments that he loves to play and is so adorable.

The kids hold a meeting to figure out how to convince Mr. Stricter to let Bruno go. But despite all their objections, Mr. Stricter won’t listen – until Bruno swallows him whole!

At this point, I was telling myself, Okay, somehow they’ll get him out of there. And they do. After some stubbornness, the kids cleverly figure out how to make Bruno sneeze.

Mr. Stricter flew out like a snot rocket.

He shook Bruno’s slime from his ears.
“Good news,” he said.
“I found the missing homework.”

No, this story isn’t even slightly realistic. How did a tiny tadpole-like hippo hatch from a frog’s egg, anyway? But yes, it is very silly and very, very fun. As always Zachariah Ohora’s illustrations are perfect.

anicarissi.com
zohora.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of City Moon, by Rachael Cole, illustrated by Blanca Gómez

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

City Moon

by Rachael Cole
illustrated by Blanca Gómez

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Such a lovely book! I love the simple way it celebrates that it gets dark early in the fall. Here’s how it begins:

In the fall,
when leaves are coming down,
it gets dark before we go to bed.

After dinner,
after tooth-brushing time,
we put on pajamas,
then coats and shoes.

We take keys,
and bang the big front door
behind us.

It’s evening. It’s night.
We are going on a walk
to look for the moon.

The illustrations show a busy city, with people doing things in their apartments and other walking on the sidewalk. The child asks questions, and the mother answers. The moon hides behind buildings and clouds. They see stars (which are not little moons) and a reflection of the moon. The child learns about those things and that there is only one moon, even though it looks like it’s in a different place.

It’s all simple and lovely as a walk with a mother and small child.

I liked this page:

“Mama, why doesn’t everyone look?”
“They’re busy,” Mama tells me.
“Walking and riding bikes home
and cooking dinner
and putting children to bed.”

This book makes me want to go look for the moon. And I will do so with new eyes. Best of all, it gives me a whole new perspective on getting home from work when it’s already dark. That doesn’t have to be an annoyance.

And like all good bedtime books, it ends with a child asleep in bed, the moon shining down.

rachaelcole.net
cosasminimas.com
randomhousekids.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?