Archive for the ‘Animal Characters’ Category

Review of The Giant Jumperee, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

The Giant Jumperee

by Julia Donaldson
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages.

This extra large picture book with warm and friendly pictures would be perfect for a Toddler Storytime. There aren’t too many words on a page, and the situation is a little tiny bit scary – with a happy payoff.

The beginning page shows Rabbit standing on his two hind legs and looking at his burrow with surprise.

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow.

“I’m the GIANT JUMPEREE and I’m scary as can be!”

Rabbit goes to Cat for help, who promises to slink inside and pounce on the Giant Jumperee.

But the Giant Jumperee shouts, “I’m the GIANT JUMPEREE and I’ll squash you like a flea!”

Next Bear and then Elephant are likewise frightened away by a loud voice making scary threats.

But Mama Frog is undaunted, even though all the animals warn her what the Giant Jumperee told them. Savvy readers will not be surprised that the Giant Jumperee is not so giant when he comes out.

The animals aren’t angry to be fooled. They’re all pictured laughing heartily. And Mama Frog tells the Giant Jumperee that now he’s coming home for tea.

And it looks like Rabbit, Cat, Bear, and Elephant will join them.

This is a happy book with just that little taste of a small critter trying for power. I wouldn’t be surprised if little ones would want to try acting this out themselves.

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 Little Pig Saves the Ship, by David Hyde Costello

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Little Pig Saves the Ship

by David Hyde Costello

Charlesbridge, 2017. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017

This story of the youngest child left behind is crafted well. So often when a younger child or pet saves the day, it feels contrived. In this one, the adventure is realistic and satisfying. The reader sees there can be compensations to being the smallest.

The book opens:

Little Pig wished he could go to sailing camp with his brothers and sisters,

but he was too little.

Tiny, the oldest, had been to sailing camp five summers in a row. He gave Little Pig his book of sailors’ knots and a piece of rope.

The speech bubbles on the pages inform us that Little Pig will be old enough to go next summer.

Little Pig spends his first day, with a lot of spare time, learning to tie knots. Then Little Pig’s grandfather shows him the beautiful wooden ship he’s making for Little Pig. He promises that the next day, they’ll finish it together.

(I love almost all the illustrations. But the two older pigs with full white whiskers look way too strange for me.)

They end up sailing the ship on the stream every day for the rest of the week. But on the last day, the ship gets away from them and goes down a waterfall, and is headed rapidly downstream. Little Pig runs downstream to a bridge across the stream – but his arm is too short to catch the boat.

Then he remembered Tiny’s rope in his pocket!

And that is how Little Pig saved the ship.

I like the way Little Pig and Poppy tell all his siblings about his rescue. He still wishes he could go sailing with them – and the next day, they all sail his little boat together.

charlesbridge.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 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 Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny, by John Himmelman

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Bunjitsu Bunny vs. Bunjitsu Bunny

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2017. 122 pages.

I still say that John Himmelman’s books about Bunjitsu Bunny are perfect for readers who are just becoming fluent enough readers for chapter books. There are pictures on every page, and not a lot of words, so even though there are more than a hundred pages, the book is not daunting. And each chapter is a self-contained story, and most of them have some kind of pay-off or surprise ending, so reading them is rewarding.

Now I’ll admit that there’s nothing excitingly new about this new volume, and it doesn’t matter what order you read the books in. So I’m not struck with new enthusiasm about this series or itching to tell you about an especially clever new story.

However – collectively, the books are wonderful. I’m so glad they exist. Kids who already love reading about Bunjitsu Bunny will be happy for a set of more stories.

A bunny who’s skilled at bunjitsu and can conquer every foe, except maybe herself. What could be better?

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 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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Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon, by John Himmelman

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 120 pages.

Bunjitsu Bunny’s back! Isabel the Bunjitsu master is back in this third book of short stories about fighting well and knowing when not to fight.

As before, most of the short well-illustrated chapters have some kind of kicker to the story. My favorite is “The Floating Rabbit” where their teacher challenges them to get from one circle drawn on the floor to another on the other side of the room without touching the floor. Isabel figures out to ask her friends to carry her.

“Sometimes,” said Isabel, “friends can help us do things we cannot do on our own.”

There are 13 short chapters in this book. The print is large and there are pictures on each spread, so this is a perfect choice for kids ready to start chapter books.

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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 When a Wolf Is Hungry, by Christine Naumann-Villemin, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

When a Wolf Is Hungry

by Christine Naumann-Villemin
illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2017. 32 pages.

I have a thing for books where someone gets eaten – or eating gets thwarted. When a Wolf Is Hungry falls into the latter category.

This is a book for sophisticated readers – more for elementary school readers than preschoolers. What’s going on is subtle, and a lot of fun when we finally see what’s happening. Here’s how it begins:

One Sunday morning, Edmond Bigsnout, lone wolf, left his home in the woods with a great big knife in his paw.

Edmond had a hankering for some rabbit.

Not just any ordinary cottontail, though. What he craved was a grain-fed, silky-haired rabbit, one with just a hint of sweetness. A city bunny.

So Edmond heads into the city.

He stopped in front of a tall apartment building.
He checked the names next to the buzzers and found exactly what he was looking for:
Max Omatose, miniature rabbit
5th floor

Oh, Edmond was so happy!
With the point of his knife,
he pressed the button for the elevator.
Ding!

Inside the elevator, he set down the knife and adjusted his bow tie.
(Just because a wolf is hungry, that doesn’t mean he can’t be fashionable.)

But of course, he forgot his knife in the elevator.

A turkey finds the knife in the elevator and says it’s just what she needs to cut this cake. So when Edmond comes back, it’s gone.

So he returns to try again with a chainsaw – and a bear asks to borrow it to trim a hedge on the roof. Similar fate befalls a rope, a big pot, and his barbecue grill. That one is borrowed by a lovely young wolf who thinks he’s a new neighbor.

When he’s had too much and decides to just eat the rabbit with some mustard, there’s a note on the rabbit’s door saying “I’m on the roof.” When the wolf reaches the roof, he finds all the apartment residents he encountered before, including the lovely young wolf. He finds out why they wanted to borrow his things – and let’s just say he makes some new life choices.

This one isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s understated and lovely and a happy ending for everyone.

krisdigiacomo.com
Eerdmans.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 Pets on the Loose! The Great Pet Escape, by Victoria Jamieson

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Pets on the Loose!

The Great Pet Escape

by Victoria Jamieson

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2016. 64 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a graphic novel just right for kids who are ready for chapter books. It’s by the brilliant Newbery-Honor-winning Victoria Jamieson.

This book is about the classroom pets of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School. GW, a mouse, explains his fate at the beginning:

Three months,
two weeks,
and one day.

That’s how long I’ve been stuck in this terrible prison, otherwise known as . . .
a second-grade classroom.

I was captured along with my friends Barry and Biter. I haven’t seen them in months. We’re being held in separate cells.

GW has devised a clever plan to escape, including an elaborate contraption to get the door open. When he escapes one night, he goes to rescue Barry, a rabbit, and Biter, a guinea pig, as well.

Barry’s the first grade classroom pet, but he seems to have gone soft in prison. Still, when GW breaks him out, he goes along.

Barry tries to warn GW about Biter:

She’s . . . she’s doing hard time in the worst cell block in this place. Her jailers torture her nearly all the time with stupid songs and crazy behavior . . . .

You don’t mean . . .

Yes, I’m afraid I do . . . .
Biter is in KINDERGARTEN.

Sure enough, Biter has even changed her name to “Sunflower.” She says, “Here in kindergarten, we talk a lot about feelings, and, well . . . I’ve come to realize I have some anger issues.”

Well, that’s the beginning. GW and Barry do convince Sunflower to come along, on the strength of their friendship. But then they meet the fourth grade class pet, Harriet, and her mouse minions. Harriet is planning to sabotage the school lunch.

What follows is a grand and dramatic food fight.

Classroom pets on the loose! Jokes about school! Mayhem in the school cafeteria in the night! All in graphic novel format! There’s not one kid you’ll have to coax to read this book.

And best of all, it shows all the signs of being the first book of a new series, Pets on the Loose!

victoriajamieson.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 The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

The Antlered Ship

by Dashka Slater
illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Beach Lane Books, 2017. 44 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book adventure story featuring animals. I expected trite, corny, or hokey. What I found was charming and marvelous.

The book begins by introducing us to a fox who asks philosophical questions:

The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.

He had so many questions.
Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad?
Why don’t trees ever talk?
How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?

But when he posed these questions to the other foxes, they grew silent.
“What does that have to do with chicken stew?” they asked.

Marco goes to the harbor to see the ship and learns that the crew of deer onboard are lost. They hope to hire better sailors. Marco signs on, in hopes of finding other foxes who know the answers to his questions. A flock of pigeons, led by Victor, signs on, hoping to have adventures. The original deer crew, led by the captain Sylvia, are looking for an island with tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees.

But first, they find adventures. The crew gets discouraged by the difficulties they face. This is my favorite page:

“We should have stayed in the woods,” Sylvia said. “Deer aren’t supposed to go to sea.”
“We should have stayed in the park,” added Victor. “Pigeons aren’t supposed to do hard labor.”
Marco eyed the deer and the pigeons. “Foxes aren’t supposed to be vegetarian,” he said. “Still, we must do the best we can.”

No, Marco doesn’t eat the crew. He makes a warm and reviving stew of vegetables and revives his friends to continue their quest.

Marco continues to pour forth philosophical questions throughout the book. Things like: “Do islands like being alone? Do waves look more like horses or swans?” But the question for which he finds the best answers is “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?”

And though the others’ initial quests are satisfied, the friends decide that they want to travel on….

The beautiful illustrations by Terry Fan and Eric Fan add just the right touch to give the animals’ efforts seriousness. At the same time, their naïve ideas are child-sized. Children will delight to share the adventure.

dashkaslater.com
thefanbrothers.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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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?