Friday, October 31, 2014

Little Boo review


The leaves fall, the wind blows, and one little pumpkin seed tries and tries to be scary. But he doesn’t scare anyone . . . not the snowflakes in winter, not the bees in spring, not even the watering can! The wind tells him to be patient—he’ll be scary soon enough. But waiting is hard. Will the little seed ever be really, truly be scary?(goodreads summary)

A tiny little seed is determined to scare everyone around him. But when he says "boo" nobody seems to be scared. The wind tells him it is not quite his time yet and that he needs to have patience. After a long winters sleep, he awakens in the spring ready to get back to scaring but learns that having patience may just be a good thing after all.  

This is a cute and charming story that would be a fun read-aloud for your fall season celebrating.   The text flows nicely and the illustrations are bold and colorful. It also touches briefly through its pictures the life cycle of a seed, to a plant and then into a pumpkin that little ones will easily understand. It would also make a wonderful classroom discussion and project book trying to grow a plant from a pumpkin seed themselves. With a heart-warming ending, the little seed will show kids that waiting to grow up can be hard but with a little patience you may just grow into something spectacular. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Little Boo
Author: Stephen Wunderli
Pub. Date: August 2014, Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sleepyheads review


Both spirited and soothing, this bedtime read-aloud story is the perfect preface for a trip to dreamland. The sun has set, and sleepyheads all across the land are tucked into their cozy beds. But there's one little sleepyhead who's not in his bed.(goodreads summary)

Getting those little ones to finally settle in after a long day can sometimes be a challenge.  This book is the perfect read-aloud for cuddling and helping them wind down from that busy day. Adding this sweet and soothing story to a nightly bedtime routine is sure to let kids know that it is time for a good night sleep themselves. The simple rhyming text and cute illustrations of baby animals sleeping in special places throughout, adds a sense of calmness and offers a gentle message to children that it is their turn now for sleep. One little sleepyhead seems to be missing from their bed at the end but has a very heart warming outcome. This one could soon become a bedtime favorite and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-5.~

Title:  Sleepyheads
Author: Sandra J. Howatt, Illustrated by Joyce Wan
Pub. Date: May 2014, Beach Lane Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Words with Wings review


Gabby's world is filled with daydreams. However, what began as an escape from her parents' arguments has now taken over her life. But with the help of a new teacher, Gabby the dreamer might just become Gabby the writer, and words that carried her away might allow her to soar.(goodreads summary)

I am usually not a big reader of books written in verse but this one is definitely mentionable.  The beautiful poetry will hook you from the first page to the last wanting to hear Gabby's voice. She feels the other kids in her class thinks she is shy and weird which becomes even harder for her when she relocates to another school due to her parents separation. At first her mom and new teacher, Mr. Spicer, do not understand her drifting off and both feel it is interfering with everyday tasks. Gabby is labeled a daydreamer.... She decides she will work on focusing when she needs to but during times like recess, she will let her mind carry her away again. Then one day her teacher begins to recognize a special quality about her daydreaming and instead of stopping it he surprisingly encourages her instead.  

This short and fast read would be great for teachers and parents as well as children. Many times we view them as not paying attention to us or being in their own world. After reading this inspiring book, it just might open our adult eyes to the possibility there may be more to a child that we don't see. There could be a future author or artist, composer or an inventor who just needs a little understanding and guidance to help them channel some creativity, letting them know they are "okay".  I am glad I found this powerful book by accident and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 8-99.~

Title: Words with Wings
Author: Nikki Grimes
Pub. Date: September 1, 2013, Wordsong
Genre: non-fiction
Hardcover, 84 pgs. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Once Upon a Memory review


When a feather drifts through a child's window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical "before" and "after" scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child,  asking  "What will you remember?" 

When I finished reading this gentle story, I stopped for a moment or two just to reflect back on the text and pictures again.  The combination of words and serene illustrations give it a sleepy, dreamy feeling that will help wind you down from an active day. The rhyming text is simple but so meaningful when read at a slow pace, which is great at bedtime. The illustrations are done by one of my favorites, Renata Liwska, who is so captivating and pulls me into the story by her drawings every time. She has a way with the animals expression that give them a lifelike quality. The last page offers a look at some favorite memories from the author and illustrator that will open conversation about remembering some of your favorite things. There is just something about this sweet quiet book that I know will be a favorite in my memory. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-7.~

Title: Once Upon a Memory
Author: Nina Laden, illustrated by Renata Liwska
Pub. Date: December 2013, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs. 

 You may also like:

The Quiet Book                                    The Loud Book!  
 The Quiet Book by Renata Liwska                                         The Loud Book by Renata Liwska                                 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bear Sees Colors review


Colors, colors everywhere!
Can you find colors just like Bear?

Bear and his friend Mouse are out for a walk and there are so many colors to see!  Along the way, they meet more of their animal friends from the woods as the fun day continues on. The text flows easily and will have kids guessing what color Bear sees next before you turn the page. With brightly colored pages and objects to point out that are easy to find, younger kids will enjoy participating while it is being read-aloud. This is a another delightful Bear and friends story that could be helpful while teaching color concepts. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: Bear Sees Colors
Author: Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman
Pub. Date: September 2014,  Margaret K McElderry Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Breathing Room review


Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward.   Set in 1940 at a time of political unrest throughout the U.S. and Europe, this thought-provoking novel sheds light on a much-feared worldwide illness. (goodreads summary)

  In May of 1940, 13 year old Evvy Hoffmeister is admitted to the Loon Lake Sanatorium in Minnesota. She was sent away from her family with the hopes of recovering from Tuberculosis. Upon her arrival, she is faced with many strict rules such as; plenty of rest, no talking, no stress on the lungs by coughing or crying and definitely no moving out of bed. She will be sharing a room with three girls named Dena, Pearl and Sarah and tries to settle into the rigid daily routines.  Despite the many uncertain days that loom ahead, the girls'  friendships blossom, pulling strength from one another that will help pull them through their illness and hopefully onto the road to recovery. 

I really enjoy books that not only tell a story but also one that a child will learn from. I found this very moving historical fiction one of these books. It was not only about having an illness and surviving but it also focuses on the friendships that formed because of it. The day-to-day struggles were well written and I felt the main character Evvy being a real person.  The head nurse they called Old Eagle Eye just added to the feeling of what it was like staying at a sanatorium under strict orders. The chapters are short with many vintage illustrations throughout. They added a great visual representation of the time as well.  Each girl adds her own story, strength and personality bringing the friendships closer with each slow moving day. Evvy finds that she has a talent for writing which she decides to try her hand at with her exploration through poetry.  Not all have a happy ending but it is the reality of an illness with no cure. The author does not sugar coat death when a patient dies from a hemorrhage or the effects the disease had on the body. Many people either made it or they didn't with some even having to reside at sanatoriums for years. It was a time I pictured vividly and learned many new things I never realized after reading Evvy's story because I never experienced it.  I did walk away with a stronger knowledge and understanding of something other than just a diagnosis or a term. I think if kids try and go into this book with an open mind, not looking for action or suspense, they may view it to be a very informative read. 

At the end of the book, I loved that the author gives many more facts about TB and details of her research leading up to this book. I learned for example that after Eleanor Roosevelt died, an autopsy discovered she had Tuberculosis and that the author of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, Betty MacDonald, wrote The Plague and I which was based on her time at a sanatorium. Afterwards, there is another section devoted to full description of the chapter illustrations and once again, more things I did not know.  I saw the book is intended toward an  8-14 age group but feel  it would be better suited for an older audience. Tuberculosis is more than a cough and the description of symptoms and the patients trying to survive this terrible illness may be scary for the younger group. I am glad that this book gives voice to a sad time and forgotten or unknown part of our history. I think this is a "just right book" book for ages 11-14.~

Title:  Breathing Room
Author: Marsha Hayles 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 2012, Henry Holt and Co.
 Hardcover, 244 pgs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Time! review

The day the cows strolled down Main Street in fancy hats...Evy didn't notice. What was Evy doing? Evy is so focused on watching her garden grow that she misses all the silliness going on around her--pigs DANCING, donkeys FLYING, and sheep HAVING A PICNIC.But after Evy's spent all year taking care of her garden, everyone's invited to pumpkin time! (goodreads summary)

While Evy is diligently tending to her garden, she does not even notice all the animals silly antics... Here is a fun read-aloud book just in time for the fall harvest season. Starting in spring and working through fall, we watch Evy hard at work growing something special for a feast. It also makes for a great interactive story as each page asks, "What is Evy doing?."  Kids will pick up on clues from the colorful illustrations showing her researching pumpkins and being committed to her gardening.  In the end, Evy has a yummy treat to share with all! The last page has recipes for toasting pumpkin seeds, some interesting pumpkin facts and answers to what Evy was doing. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: Pumpkin Time!
Author: Erzsi Deak,  illustrated by Doug Cushman
Pub. Date:  July 2014, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: picture books  
Hardcover, 32 pgs. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You Are (Not) Small review

You Are (Not) Small

  The two creatures featured in this book are definitely in disagreement on who is "Big" and who is "Small".  But then again, what does each one really mean in comparison?  This cute story has simple text perfect for a beginning reader ready for some independence. With its' repetitive site words for easy recognition, along with the unique characters, it reminded me a little of  Dr. Seuss. The illustrations are bold and colorful with a funny twist at the end that will encourage further thinking about size in comparison. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4-6.~

Title: You are (Not) Small
Author: Anna Kang illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Pub. Date:  August 2014, Two Lions
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Colors versus Shapes review

We're the stars of this show: colors!
We're the stars of this show: shapes!
Wait . . .Which team deserves the spotlight? Whose talents will steal the scene? Colors can really mix it up, but nobody stacks higher than shapes. Red and his primary pals have some colorful surprises in store. Circle and his crew reveal whole new sides of themselves. How will the judges ever pick a winner? (goodreads summary)

There seems to be quite a competition between colors and shapes as they each show off who has the better talent to earn star of this story.  This book would add some extra excitement to a kindergarten classroom working on a color and shape unit.The whimsical and colorful pages are fun to look at and will keep kids interested in turning the page to see what will happen next. The mixing of colors gives a brief lesson of primary and secondary colors, as well as placing shapes together to form others. It also goes beyond the basic shape, taking it to a next level of learning by showing pentagons, hexagons, a rhombus or octagon just to name a few.  It ends up having a wonderful compromise between the two of what colors and shapes can really do together that adds so much to our everyday world. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4-7.~

Title: Colors versus Shapes
Author: Mike Boldt
Pub. Date: August 2014, Harper Collins
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dog Days of School review


Charlie thinks his dog, Norman, has got it good: he gets to spend his days lounging on the couch or playing fetch, and he never has to do any homework. But when Charlie makes a wish to be a dog instead of a boy, things get a little topsy-turvy!  (goodreads summary)

We are already into a month of a new school year and I bet many of our children could relate to this funny story about Charlie. He does not like going to school and is tired of practicing his letters and drawing pictures. Most of all he seems anxious on Sunday nights and has trouble falling asleep. That night, he makes a wish that he could be like his dog Norman, whose life seems pretty grand at the moment. He wakes up the next morning and finds that he has switched bodies with Norman the dog! This funny story shows kids that the grass may not always be greener on the other side. Illustrations are large and bold making it a visually great read-aloud for the younger ones. They will giggle seeing Charlie doing the things his dog really does during the day while Norman goes to school supposedly like a real boy.  Well, I guess be careful what you wish for!  I have enjoyed many books by this author and again this one definitely will be added to my list. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Dog Days of School
Author: Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Pub. Date:  June 2014, Disney-Hyperion
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear review

19635754 How can two friends share winter when one of them is hibernating? Beatrice and Bear meet one spring day and become best buddies. They play together through summer and fall. Then winter comes and Beatrice can’t find Bear anywhere. She hears he’s gone to hibernate—but where on earth is that? When Beatrice learns that hibernation is not a place and that Bear will be sleeping all winter long, she fears it will be a lonely season . . . unless she comes up with a brilliant plan to share winter with Bear too. (goodreads summary)

Beatrice and Bear played all through spring, summer and fall until it was time for Bear to settle in for a long winter sleep... Beatrice thinks it is an opportunity for a sleepover with her new best friend until she learns bunnies are not made for hibernating. She soon comes up with a brilliant idea that will help Bear experience all the wonderful things about winter that the two will miss together.  This is a charming story about friendship, problem solving and creativity. It is a perfect read-aloud for the upcoming change of seasons and discussion about hibernation. The cute illustrations captured the personality of each character so well that I could feel Beatrice's enthusiasm throughout the book. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear
Author: Monica Carnesi
Pub. Date: August 2014, Nancy Paulsen Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.