Archive for the ‘Animal Characters’ Category

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.

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Review of Baabwaa and Wooliam, by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Baabwaa & Wooliam

by David Elliott
illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Candlewick Press, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book had me at the introductory spread:

This is Wooliam.
He is a sheep.
You will note that Wooliam is reading.
There are not many sheep who read.
But Wooliam is one of them.

This is Baabwaa, also a sheep.
In this picture, Baabwaa is knitting.
Knitting is a very practical hobby for a sheep.
It’s surprising not more of them do it.
Oh well.

Reading and knitting! These are my kind of sheep!

One day, when Wooliam has been reading about adventures, he suggests that they set out to have an adventure of their own.

It’s not easy to find an adventure in a field with a stone wall around it. But then, they are approached by another sheep.

A sheep with a long, rangy tail.
A sheep with a sharp, whiskered snout.
A sheep with a filthy wool coat.

However, well-read Wooliam recognizes the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing from his reading.

After some chasing, the wolf wants to find out more. Wooliam has read about him?

Eventually, the sheep develop a friendship with the wolf. Wooliam teaches him to read, and Baabwaa knits him a better sweater. But there’s still a fair amount of chasing. The sheep needed some exercise anyway.

And they decide it was quite an adventure, after all.

This book is quirky, warm, and fun. It even gives a message about the value of reading. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are also quirky, warm, and fun. As it happens, I was planning on doing a preschool storytime this week about “Adventures,” and this book will fit in perfectly.

Friendship is one of the best adventures of them all.

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 Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mike Austin

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike

by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Mike Austin

Beach Lane Books (Simon and Schuster), 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

This book is SO FAB! Why, oh why, has no one ever before written a book about how beautiful life is if you are goldfish in a child’s aquarium? This is a needed niche – any child with a fish will love it – and on top of that, the story is tremendous fun to read aloud, with bright, colorful pictures. It’s got enthusiastic language and plenty of onomatopoeia.

Here’s how the book begins:

Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike are five fish who met at the fish store.
They are fab friends.

A little girl brought them home and plopped them into the tank:
PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP PLOP

FAB!

The fish tank is like HEAVEN.
Henny loves the orange gravel.
Penny loves the diver.
Lenny loves the rock.
Denny loves the pirate ship.
And Mike loves the bubbles.
Nobody loves the snail, but that’s okay.

There are a surprising number of adventures that happen in the lives of Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike. They hate Clean the Fish Tank Day – but are so excited and happy when the girl makes everything just sparkle.

And then new fish enter the tank! And a new fairy castle! There’s one little problem at the end, and we’re all surprised by who saves the day.

I just can’t express enough how much fun this book is to read. I bet you can’t read it and not smile. After all, fish tank life and this book are both SO FAB!

CynthiaRylant.com
JingandMike.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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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 Yours Sincerely, Giraffe, by Megumi Iwasa

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

by Megumi Iwasa
illustrated by Jun Takabatake

Gecko Press, 2017. First published in New Zealand in 2016. 102 pages.

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe is a light-hearted chapter book perfect for beginning readers.

Giraffe is bored. When he finds a bored pelican who is starting a delivery service, Giraffe decides to write a letter. He tells Pelican to give it to the first animal you meet on the other side of the horizon. That turns out to be very far away.

But Pelican finds a seal who delivers mail to Penguin. So Giraffe and Penguin start a correspondence.

They don’t understand each other terribly well. But how can you expect a penguin whose only companion is a whale to understand what a long neck is?

Giraffe decides that he’s going to try to dress up like penguin. He takes all penguin’s descriptions and does his best – with very funny results.

This story is good, sweet fun.

geckopress.com

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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 Wolf’s First Howling, by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Little Wolf’s First Howling

by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
and Kate Harvey McGee

Candlewick Press, 2017. 28 pages.

I just read this book in a storytime, along with three other picture books I personally like better – and this book was far and away the kids’ favorite. I decided to review it after all!

Little Wolf is going with his father Big Wolf up to the top of the hill to howl the full moon up to the top of the sky.

Big Wolf demonstrates how it should be done.

Little Wolf responds with things like:

aaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
dibbity dobbity skibbity skobbity
skooo-wooooo-wooooooooooo

Big Wolf explains that Little Wolf was off to a good start, but his finish was not proper howling form. He demonstrates again.

After Little Wolf’s third attempt, Big Wolf can’t resist – and jumps in with his own jazzy howling.

The children at storytime simply loved demonstrating the proper way to howl with Big Wolf. I think it would be a whole lot of fun to take this book home. It wouldn’t be long before a child would learn all of Little Wolf’s jazzy variations.

The lovely pictures make it look like a serious book about wolves. Kids are delighted with the surprise twist.

This book reminds me of Froodle, but with wolves instead of birds, and some nice father-child interaction. I like that Big Wolf eventually is willing to be jazzy, too.

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.

What did you think of this book?