Cakes in Space

Image Credit: Random House, Philip Reeve/Sarah McIntyre

Image Credit: Random House, Philip Reeve/Sarah McIntyre

Who doesn’t want to read a book about monster cakes in space?? Who could pass up a funky cover like this? Cakes in Space is FUN, snarky, totally ridiculous and a great story. This book is a stand-alone but it’s also the second in the Not-So-Impossible Tale Series by the amazing team, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Their first book, Oliver and the Seawigs, is also awesome.

The book opens with Astra and her family heading to the new planet of Nova Mundi which is 199 years away. Before they’re locked into their pods for hibernation, Astra’s rumbling belly leads her to the ship’s “Nom-a-tron” to get a snack. She asks for the ultimate cake. The machine takes an unusually long time to process her request so she goes back to her pod to hibernate. Unfortunately the machine takes her request too literally and…MAKES CAKES THAT ARE ALIVE!! Astra wakes from her hibernation before everyone else, but 99 years have passed and the cakes have had 99 years to evolve and have taken over the ship! She has to fight the cakes and along the way she makes new friends, trusts her gut and uses her smarts.

McIntyre’s sci-fi illustrations are very cute and inviting. She only uses a few colors; orange, black, brown and gray and it works surprisingly well. This book is a mix between a picture book and a chapter book because there’s an illustration on just about every page. If you have a child who is a little trepidatious about jumping into larger chapter books, this is a great bridge for them because it isn’t too long and it has lots of pictures! It’s also one of my recommended read-aloud books for families.

Recommended for: 2nd Graders and up, Children ready for longer chapter books
Great for: Friendship, Sci-fi, Action/Adventure, Girl Power, Read-Aloud, Diversity
Book Info: Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve/Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre, 2014 Random House, ISBN: 9780385387927

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Image Credit: Bloomsbury USA, Sarah J. Maas

Image Credit: Bloomsbury USA, Sarah J. Maas

I can’t resist a good Beauty and the Beast inspired story. I also can’t resist a well-written romance, especially one with powerful a heroine. Sarah J. Maas’ lush writing will pull you into her complex, romantic world of dark magic and Faeries. If you already love her bestselling Throne of Glass series, you won’t be disappointed. Maas is marketing this novel as “New Adult” though it is sectioned in Young Adult as well. This book is definitely for the upper age range of teen due to violence and some sexual situations.

A Court of Thorns and Roses opens on a cold wintry evening with huntress Feyre tracking a deer. Her family is depending on her for a kill. She kills an abnormally large wolf that turns out to be more than a wolf; it’s a shape-shifting High Faerie of the realm Prythian. A few hours later another beastly wolf bursts through her door and takes her to his realm as punishment. A life for a life he says. As Feyre is trapped in his realm and in his house, she learns more about Tamlin, her captor and immortal Faerie. Their strong personalities clash but slowly, they start to respect and fall for each other. He needs her and she must fight for him as darkness threatens to change his world forever.

Feyre and Tamlin don’t give up on each other and the most enjoyable aspect of the novel for me was seeing the development of their relationship and the sacrifices they make. Feyre is a strong woman! She doesn’t let him push her around and loves him fiercely. Teens (and adults) who value excellent storytelling with a healthy dose of romance, fantasy and action will enjoy the first novel in this new series.

Recommended for: Older Teens to Adult
Great for: Girl Power, Action/Adventure, Romance, Fantasy, Love, Inner-Strength
Book Info: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, 2015 Bloomsbury USA, ISBN: 9781619634442

Ten, Nine, Eight

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

While browsing the web, I saw the cover of this book and immediately had flashbacks. I’m a very visual person and the last time I’d seen this cover was when I very little. I’d completely forgotten about this book, and so, I set out to find it.

Molly Bang covers a lot of important basics here; love, family, counting and warm illustrations. Her oil illustrations really shine and you can’t help but smile while looking at them. The cover illustration is very reminiscent of Goodnight Moon in composition. I especially recommend this book in board book form because it is the perfect size for toddlers to hold. Formulaic, descriptive lines like “Ten small toes all washed and warm” create a comfortable feeling and little ones will enjoy going to bed with this book.

We see a black father loving his child. This is important because it isn’t depicted often, in all types of media. This little book celebrates their love for each other. Regardless of ethnicity, the father-daughter relationship is underrepresented in picture books (but luckily that is changing). Ten, Nine, Eight is a great book for counting, vocabulary and bedtime and it just happens to feature a beautiful, black family.  🙂

Recommended for: Toddlers
Great for: Counting, Vocabulary, Bedtime, Family, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Father-Daughter, African-American
Book Info: Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang, 1983 Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780688149017

Hooray for Fish!

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Lucy Cousins

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins is great. She really understands what kids like. Hooray for Fish! has a little bit of everything and her illustrations are so vibrant and fun! If her name isn’t ringing a bell, she is most famous for her Maisy book series (the little white mouse). I discovered this book in one of my elementary school classrooms in Korea. My Kindergarteners loved it very much; they especially loved the page where you have to count the fish. The students in front always got up and touched the page to count them out loud.

Though this is mostly a concept book, little fish swims through the ocean to find the fish he loves the most and along the way, he meets all types of fish. He even meets an Ele-fish (yes…an elephant-fish)!! After meeting many new friends, he finally finds his mama fish and they share a fishy-kiss. I recommend the large, hardcover edition of this book but it’s also nice as a board book. Teachers, this book has great lesson potential. Your students can create their own fantasy fish or you can assign opposite words to pairs and they work together to make two fish. Your classroom will be full of colorful fish. Hooray!

Recommended for: Toddlers and Kindergarteners
Great for: Colors, Counting, Vocabulary, Opposites, Rhyme
Book Info: Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, 2005 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763627416