Archive for the ‘Animal Characters’ Category

Review of Truman, by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Truman

written by Jean Reidy
illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. 48 pages.
Starred Review
Review written August 9, 2019, from a library book

Here’s a sweet story of a tortoise and his Sarah.

Truman loves his Sarah. They are well-suited; both are peaceful and pensive. Truman’s tank is by the window where he can look down on the street with honking taxis, growling trash trucks, shrieking cars, and the number 11 bus, which traveled south.

But one day, Sarah does some new things. She has an extra big breakfast, wears new clothes, and straps on a big backpack.

Sarah placed seven green beans in Truman’s dish –
two more than usual!

She kissed her finger and touched it to his shell and whispered,
“Be brave.”
Then she left.

Not to worry.
She’d left before.
And she’d always returned.

But this time
that backpack was particularly big.
And Sarah looked particularly pensive.
And that banana,
and that bow, and –
let’s not forget about those extra beans!

That’s when Truman saw something
he’d never seen before:

Sarah boarding the number 11 bus going south.

The bus roared away.

Truman tries to be patient. But eventually, Truman knows he must go after his Sarah!

What follows is brave and bold and adventurous and extraordinary – for a tortoise.

Don’t worry – the book has a happy ending. Meanwhile, children get the position of knowing what’s going on while someone smaller waits and wonders and learns to trust.

The pictures turn this story into something utterly charming. I don’t think anyone could read this book without falling in love with small, pensive Truman the tortoise.

jeanreidy.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.

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 Maybe Tomorrow? by Charlotte Agell, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Maybe Tomorrow?

by Charlotte Agell
illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

Scholastic Press, 2019. 40 pages.
Starred Review
Review written July 5, 2019, from a library book

Oh, this is a wonderful, joyous, and tender book about grief and about sharing burdens in friendship. I wish I could show the bright and joyful pictures. The editor here did the perfect match of illustrator to words.

Elba is a pink hippo-like creature (reminds me of a Moomin) with downcast eyes and Norris is a crocodile who walks upright. They live in a bright, springlike landscape. Here’s how the book begins:

Elba had a big block.
She’d been dragging it around for a long time.

It made her walk slowly.
It made her think darkly.
It was heavy.

Norris danced everywhere he went, even uphill.

One day, Elba was sitting on her block in the park, like she usually did.

Along came Norris in a cloud of butterflies.
At first Elba couldn’t see him in all that shininess.

Norris tries to get Elba to go on a picnic with him, but she wants to sit on her block, like she usually does. (The block is the one dark thing in the pictures.)

Norris stays and talks with Elba. He feels something sad in the block that wants to come out, but they don’t know how. By the end of the day, they say, “Maybe tomorrow.”

The next day, it’s raining, and Norris brings tea to Elba. “They had good, quiet tea with rain in it.”

The next day, Norris shows up again.

Tomorrow didn’t come, but another today did.
“It’s really time,” said Norris, “because I want you to come to the ocean with me.”
“Okay, I’ll just take my block,” said Elba, surprising herself.
“But it’s too heavy,” she added. “Right?”
“My butterflies and I will help you,” said Norris.

Indeed, the butterflies carry the block for Elba, slowly, all the way to the ocean. We learn what’s causing Elba’s sorrow as she tells about her friend Little Bird, whom she misses so much.

And after that, Elba’s block is smaller and lighter.

I hope I’m not giving too much away, and you really do need to read this book yourself, but I especially love this page at almost the end:

Together they stood and faced the roaring sea.
“I’ll always have this block, you know,” said Elba.
“Yes, maybe you will,” said Norris.
“But I will help you carry it sometimes.”

One lovely thing about this book is that you don’t have to be an Elba to appreciate it. If you’re a Norris, you can learn from his sweet, listening spirit, and his generosity with his butterflies.

It’s a friendship story and works as a friendship story. If there’s a big dark block of grief in your life, it will resonate all the more, but you don’t need that to love this book.

charlotteagell.com
scholastic.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 Sweety, by Andrea Zuill

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Sweety

by Andrea Zuill

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2019. 32 pages.

Sweety is a picture book about Sweety, a naked mole rat (who wears clothes) with unconventional habits and preferences. She’s an oddball and has trouble making friends.

I wasn’t crazy about it, not being particularly taken with the art, and sure I’ve heard this story before.

But then, a scene resonated! I realized: This is a picture book for people who have tried online dating!

Here are the pages that spoke to me, though the art does add so much:

Aunt Ruth said that being different was one of the best things about her life, and that if you stayed true to yourself, you’d find your people.

That made Sweety think.

Were there really people out there for her? How would they recognize her? How would she recognize them? Was there a secret handshake she’d have to learn?

She really hoped there was a secret handshake.

Sweety wondered how many times she’d been close to one of her people and not known it.

What if she stepped it up a notch? Would her people be able to spot her more easily?

[Shouting through a bullhorn:] My name is Sweety. I like dancing, mushrooms, and rainy days. You too? Need to find your people? Maybe we’re a match! Flyers are available.

[Picture of Sweety leading a parade of wagons with pictures of herself and her favorite activities.]

[Picture of Sweety in a mushroom costume dancing with fireworks.] Or would she just seem desperate?

For now, she’d trust Aunt Ruth, continue to do her favorite things, and be herself.

And maybe she’d try a couple of new hobbies just for fun.

After all, being Sweety wasn’t so bad.

The book does end with Sweety meeting a fellow mushroom-lover and making a secret handshake.

But I now have a go-to book for those times when I feel like “my people” just aren’t noticing me. A picture book for online dating!

I’m going to continue to do my favorite things and be myself.

And, okay, kids can get a nice message out of it, too.

andreazuill.org
rhcbooks.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?

Review of Monkey Time, by Michael Hall

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Monkey Time

by Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2019. 48 pages.
Starred Review
Review written March 9, 2019, from a library book

Here’s what I like about this picture book: You can use it in multiple ways.

On the highest level, you can use it to teach children to tell time. There are “minutes” lined up around the tree like a clock. Diagrams in the back show what it looks like for all the multiples of 10 minutes up to 60. Twelve branches on the tree are positioned like the numbers on an analog clock.

There are also some rain forest animals pictured. They are named at the back.

You can also use this book to practice counting – all the way to 60. Or to count by tens.

But I’ve got a Mother Goose Storytime for babies on Pi Day this year – and I think I’m going to use this book on the very simplest level – as words that are fun to say. It will introduce them to the idea of a clock while I’m at it.

Here’s how the book begins (over several pages):

Psst! Wake up, Monkey!
It’s time to play.

Wheee! I bet you can’t
catch a minute, Monkey.

Chase me over.
Chase me down.
Chase me all the way around.
Faster, Monkey, faster.

Hop! Pop!
Ha-ha. You missed me.

Little round “minutes” keep running around the tree, and Monkey keeps trying to catch them. The tree fills up when sixty minutes have come out. (Don’t worry, the text doesn’t closely follow all sixty minutes.)

This clever little picture book reminds me of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by personifying a concept and making a story with them that’s fun to say.

A simple and fun way to introduce the concept of telling time.

michaelhallstudio.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 Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! by Dan Santat

Monday, January 28th, 2019

Harold & Hog
Pretend for Real!

by Dan Santat

Hyperion Books for Children, May 7, 2019. 64 pages.
Starred Review
Review written January 27, 2019, from an advance reader copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

This is another book in the series Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!. Mo Willems’ Gerald and Piggie characters appear at the beginning and end to introduce a book written by someone else. This one is delightfully meta, because the book they’re introducing features an elephant and a pig – Harold & Hog – who want to pretend to be Gerald and Piggie.

Harold and Hog are drawn by Dan Santat, much more realistically than the cartoonish Gerald and Piggie. They have glasses to pretend to be Gerald and a cartoon nose to pretend to be Piggie.

But there’s a problem when they try to carry it out. Because Gerald is always very careful – but Harold has trouble with that. And Piggie is always very carefree – but Hog has trouble with that. Their efforts in that direction are tremendously fun.

I’m writing this in my Seattle hotel room while at ALA Midwinter Meeting. We chose our Newbery winners last night but don’t announce them to the world until tomorrow morning. I’m feeling a little giddy ever since I realized that I can write a review of this book – a 2019 publication – and post it this very day!

Of course, the book won’t be published until May, but this is one to watch for! Watch book characters pretend to be each other! Too much fun!

dantat.com
pigeonpresents.com
hyperionbooksforchildren.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 an Advance Reader Copy I picked up at ALA Midwinter Meeting.

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.

Review of Flora and the Peacocks, by Molly Idle

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Flora and the Peacocks

by Molly Idle

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2016. 32 pages.

Flora’s back! She’s dancing with a new kind of bird – this time not one, but two peacocks!

Flora looks a little more sophisticated this time, with flowers in her hair and holding a fan. She’s still got her child-sized round body shape.

Again, Flora dances with the birds, using the fan to mirror the peacocks’ tails.

Besides the beauty of the illustrations, the fun and motion of the flaps, and the way the child and birds mirror each other’s movements, Molly Idle always puts in a surprising amount of story in her books, even without words.

In this case, the fact that there are two birds means that a rivalry springs up. Jealousy threatens to destroy the dance – but then they come together in the biggest fold-out section of all.

Will the book and the huge fold-out hold up to library usage? That remains to be seen. It also makes me think it would be difficult to use in a storytime. But one on one, or with a few children at a time, I can easily imagine children reading this book again and again, enjoying the beauty and telling you all they notice about the characters, the feelings involved, and the ultimate happy ending. Without printed words, children will take pride in reading this book long before they can decode print. And what a wonderful way to introduce them to story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

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 Bear & Hare: Where’s Bear? by Emily Gravett

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Bear & Hare

Where’s Bear?

by Emily Gravett

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. Originally published in Great Britain in 2014. 28 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a sweet toddler-friendly story that provides counting practice along the way.

The text is simple. The first line is the most complicated one of the whole book:

Bear and Hare are playing hide-and-seek.

From there, the words are the numbers 1 through 10 written large, stretching across the page, showing Hare with his eyes covered. On the other side of the spread, next to the number 10, are the words “Where’s Bear?”

We turn the page and see Bear trying very inadequately to hide behind a lamp. Hare is pointing and saying, “There!”

The idea repeats.

After three tries where Bear is very easy to find, we see:

Maybe Hare should try hiding instead?

We’ve got the big numbers across the page again, this time with “Where’s Hare?”

Hare’s a lot harder to find. Sharp readers will spot his ears poking out. But when Bear looks under the blanket, the bed calls to him. Now Hare comes out and can’t find him!

It all ends with Hare shouting “I WANT BEAR!”

On the final page, we’ve got a cozy hug, and the words “There.”

You couldn’t ask for a cozier story to make toddlers feel clever – and get counting practice in, too.

emilygravett.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/wheres_bear.html

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?

Review of Among a Thousand Fireflies, by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Among a Thousand Fireflies

poem by Helen Frost
photographs by Rick Lieder

Candlewick Press, 2016. 28 pages.

This story is simple. What makes it amazing are the photographs.

We meet one firefly among thousands. She finds her match by the pattern her lights flash.

Across a distance
wide and dark,
she looks out from
her flower
and sees –

Light. Dark.
Light. Dark.

Inside the flower,
her light flashes back,
pulsing through the night.

Here I am. She sends a silent call.
Over here.
Look! I’m here.

As I said, it’s a simple dramatization of a firefly finding its mate through the pattern of its flashes. But who knew that pictures of fireflies could be so stunning? I especially like the way her light lights up the flower she’s sitting on.

It’s simple. It’s short. But it will make you look twice. And it will help you notice the wonder of fireflies on the next summer night.

Mind you, kids are already good at noticing such things. I think this book will validate their wonder. And it may start a conversation about the science of fireflies, with some simple notes (so parents will know what they’re talking about) at the back of the book.

candlewick.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 Follow Me! by Ellie Sandall

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Follow Me!

by Ellie Sandall

Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2016. First published in Great Britain in 2015. 32 pages.

I’m going to use this book in Toddler Storytime this week. It’s got lilting, simple language with not a lot of text on each page.

The pictures show lots of lemurs, exploring with their striped tails high in the air.

It’s time to wake up!
Come down from the tree.
Follow me,
follow me,
follow me! . . .

Things to hunt,
things to chase,
things to scare,
things to race.
Follow me,
follow me,
follow me!

When their explorations bring them face-to-face with a crocodile, all the lemurs quickly follow the leader the other direction, back to the tree.

This is a fun story with lots to look at. It ends with a cozy pile of sleeping lemurs.

simonandschuster.com/kids

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/follow_me.html

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 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?

Review of Samson in the Snow, by Philip C. Stead

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Samson in the Snow

by Philip C. Stead

A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press), 2016. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a quiet book about friendship. This isn’t an action book for keeping a class distracted, but a cozy book to look at closely and share in a lap or with a friend. The beautiful paintings add to the experience, though the scenes don’t change a lot – dandelions or snow.

Samson the wooly mammoth tends his dandelion patch on sunny days, hoping for a friend to come along. One day, a little red bird comes and takes some flowers for her friend, who is having a bad day. The friend’s favorite color is yellow.

After the bird flies away, Samson falls asleep. While he is sleeping, the weather changes, and everything gets covered with snow.

When Samson sees everything all covered with snow, he worries about the little red bird, and sets off to look for her.

As he walks around, he finds a little mouse. The mouse is having a bad day, but is looking for his friend. She is small like him, and he’s worried that she’s covered up by the snow.

The mouse gets warm in Samson’s wooly fur, and together they keep searching. Samson sees something yellow, and it turns out the mouse’s favorite color is yellow, too.

When Samson goes to the yellow spot, it turns out to be the little red bird, very cold in the snow.

Samson takes the mouse and the bird to a warm cave and they all recover and talk about their adventures in the snow.

If it seems a little unlikely that Samson would find the bird’s friend on his walk, well, I like the way it’s left to the reader to figure that out. We see friends caring for each other and Samson, who was waiting for a friend, finds two.

www.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.

What did you think of this book?