Rex Wrecks It!

RexWrecksit

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Ben Clanton

 

What a gorgeous cover, right? I know we’re thinking the same thing. ūüėČ

In Rex Wrecks It, Rex is a WRECKING MACHINE. He can’t really help it; he just gets so excited around blocks. His friends Gizmo, Sprinkles and Wild are builders but Rex, well he’s a naturally-gifted wrecker. After building their masterpieces, Rex destroys them…every time and they get awfully frustrated. Finally Gizmo, Sprinkles and Wild come up with the best plan ever! They invite Rex to build something awesome¬†with them. Sometimes it’s better to work together and it sure is more fun.

This book is adorable. I discovered it tucked in the picture book stacks at my bookstore and it’s one I always keep in the back in my mind for a great story about friendship, understanding and working together. I love Clanton’s art style; clean lines, splotchy watercolors, cute creatures and lots of dynamic wrecking scenes. Do you have one of those kids who loves to destroy things? If so, they’ll love this book! RAWR!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Teamwork, Animals, Dinosaurs, Humor, Read-Aloud
Book Info: Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton, 2014 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763665012

Always

Image Credit: Templar Books (Candlewick Press)

Image Credit: Templar Books (Candlewick Press), Emma Dodd

Okay, I might get some flack for this but here goes; I think Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is overrated and slightly creepy. Even though I personally feel this way, it’s¬†one of the top selling books for baby showers and because it has been around for a long time, many people have an emotional connection to it. That’s fair, but I always¬†try to introduce Emma Dodd’s books in place of Love You Forever because I believe they are better books.

Always is my favorite. Just look at that precious cover! The story is told by a momma elephant to her mischievous little elephant. She tells her child about all the things¬†she observes about his or her personality and all the silly things he or she does! She lets her child know that no matter what, she will always love them. Well, I absolutely love Emma Dodd’s art style. She really knows how to do cute, and bold and sweet. The digital illustrations in this book also include silver foil which adds an extra level of shiny¬†beauty.

This is a¬†nice gift book not only because of the story and art, but also because the gender of the baby elephant is not specified and cute baby animals are great fill-ins if you’re looking for and can’t find characters that match the ethnicity of the child¬†(it can be hard finding quality baby books that feature children of color but a really good one is Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang).

Be sure to check out the rest of ¬†Emma Dodd’s “Love You” book series: Forever, Everything, When You Were Born, More and More, When I Grow Up, Happy¬†and¬†Wish.

Recommended for: Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers
Great for: Animals, Opposites, Bedtime, Baby Shower, Gift, Colors, Family
Book Info: Always by Emma Dodd, 2014 Templar Books (Candlewick Press), ISBN: 9780763675448

Good Crooks: Missing Monkey!

Image Credit: Egmont USA, Mary Amato/Ward Jenkins

Image Credit: Egmont USA, Mary Amato/Ward Jenkins

In Good Crooks: Missing Monkey!, Billy and Jillian Crook just want to do something nice for someone; you know, a good deed. This is no easy task because their parents are crooks and expect the worst from them!! ¬†>_< ¬†Early one morning, Billy is lured to the zoo for Volunteer Day and his sister catches up with him. Unfortunately, mom and dad find them…and steal a monkey! Before they know it, their parents have taught the monkey the art of pick pocketing and he’s a natural, a little too natural and causes all kinds of trouble!

This book is fast paced and hilarious. The humor is so clever and dry. I love the relationship between the twins; it may seem that Jillian is the brains of the pair but don’t count Billy out, he has a few tricks up his sleeve! Jenkins’ art is very cool and compliments the story well. Though they aren’t color illustrations, they add an extra element to the story and might convince reluctant readers to pick up the book!

Good Crooks is a beginning chapter series and beginning chapter books are great transitional books for kids who are becoming more confident in their reading yet aren’t quite ready for longer chapter books. This is the first in a series and I highly recommend it for a family read-aloud and for young readers who love humor and unconventional stories…oh and crazy monkeys. There are even activities in the back of the book! If you get hooked on Good Crooks¬†(trust me, you will), be sure to check out the next two books in the series, Dog Gone! and Sniff a Skunk!

Recommended for: 1st/2nd Grade and up
Great for: Siblings, Friendship, Twins, Humor, Animals, Adventure, Read Aloud
Book Info: Good Crooks: Missing Monkey! by Mary Amato/Illustrated by Ward Jenkins, 2014 Egmont USA, ISBN: 9781606845097

At the Same Moment, Around the World

Image Credit: Chronicle Books LLC, Clotilde Perrin

Image Credit: Chronicle Books LLC, Clotilde Perrin

Oh this is quite a special little book. Clotilde Perrin’s At the Same Moment, Around the World gracefully tackles the concepts of cultural diversity and global time zones. It’s quite a difficult concept to grasp, at any age, the idea that even though it may be five o’clock in the evening and you’re eating dinner, in another part of the world, someone is eating their breakfast and starting a new day.

Each page introduces a new person going about their day in their respective country. The first page shows Keita in Senegal helping his father count fish at six am. His day starts very early but at the same moment an hour later in Paris, Benedict is eating breakfast and getting ready for school. I love how this book shows global families, relationships and everyday culture. The story ends where it begins; and so does the trip around the globe.

The illustrations are very unique and beautiful; Perrin‚Äôs pencil drawings are scratchy and very detailed with warm colors and the human figures have large heads with almond eyes. It‚Äôs obvious she put a lot of research into this book because there are little details like Arabic, French and Japanese words woven into the scenery. She also hides clocks, watches and globes within the illustrations. At the back of the book, there’s a large fold out map that reintroduces every character in the book and points to their respective time zone. This is a pretty smart addition to the book, as it further visually teaches the concept of time zones. This is a GREAT book to add to your classroom and use to teach your kids about not only other cultures, but global time as well.

Recommended for: K-1st Grade and up
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Time Zones, Geography, Discussion, Storytelling
Book Info: At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin, 2014 Chronicle Books LLC, ISBN: 9781452122083

Specs for Rex

Image Credit: Bloomsbury, Yasmeen Ismail

Image Credit: Bloomsbury, Yasmeen Ismail

I remember when I started wearing glasses in the¬†8th grade. I wasn’t too thrilled about having a pair of weird things on my face all the time. Most of us have gone through a stage in our life when we didn’t like something about our appearance. In the cute picture book, Specs for Rex, Rex is SUPER DETERMINED to get rid of his bright red glasses.

Rex tries every way possible to hide his new glasses. He even puts them in his jelly sandwich at lunchtime! During Art time, he makes a mess painting his glasses in order to turn them into sunglasses. Thanks to his teacher,¬†he gets a boost of confidence when he realizes just how helpful brand new glasses can be. Ismail’s vivid watercolor illustrations are great; they’re¬†perfect for portraying¬†Rex’s messiness¬†while he romps through his classroom. This is a great book for children who are feeling a little self conscious. It reminds them that it’ll all work out in the end!

Recommended for: Kindergarten and up
Great for: Colors, Friendship, Confidence, Classroom, Community, Discussion, New Glasses
Book Info: Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail, 2014 Bloomsbury, ISBN: 9781619637108

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

Take Away the A

Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Micha√ęl Escoffier

Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Micha√ęl Escoffier/Kris Di Giacomo

I love a great endpaper (it’s all about the details!!). I open this book and there’s a neon green background with white ABC letters. Okay, I‚Äôm already hooked! ¬†*__*

Take Away the A is by far my favorite ABC book. This book is CLEVER! It gets kids thinking about not only their ABCs but also the meaning of words. Escoffier takes away one letter from a simple word, that word magically transforms into another word and then he writes a silly sentence using both words. Then the illustrator, Di Giacomo, pairs the sentence with a charming illustration. The child reader is reading and simultaneously making connections between the sentence and image. If they have some trouble understanding the words, they can glance up at the illustration for help, especially since the format of this book is very formulaic. Some children are more visual learners and books like this are great for strengthening their reading comprehension!

As a bookseller, this was my go-to recommendation for children who are starting to feel more confident with their reading because it’s so fun and silly. The illustrations use muted colors and have a classic feeling to them. Teachers and parents can also use this book as a tool to get their kids thinking creatively! How about a Take Away the A inspired lesson where the students come up with their own silly sentences and illustrations? The possibilities are endless!

Recommended for: Beginning readers and up
Great for: ABC Learning, Inspiring creative thinking, Storytelling, Animals, Humor
Book Info: Take Away the A¬†by Micha√ęl Escoffier/Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo , 2014 Enchanted Lion Books, ISBN: 9781592701568

Maddi’s Fridge

Maddi's Fridge

Image Credit: Flashlight Press, Lois Brandt/Vin Vogel

Childhood hunger is a huge problem in the U.S.¬†In 2014, 15.3 million kids lived in food insecure households; read more about it here. This is why books like Maddi‚Äôs Fridge are¬†important. They are conversation starters and get kids thinking about how they can be more informed and how they can help those they care about. Diversity in children’s books, in my opinion, also includes books that “expand minds” and teach children about social issues. In many classrooms around the country, there are children like Maddi and close friends like Sophia. Brandt addresses¬†these issues and includes helpful information at the end of the book about childhood hunger and how to help.

In Maddi’s Fridge, Maddi and Sophia are best friends but one day Sophia notices Maddi only has a bottle of milk in her fridge and a loaf of bread. Maddi is embarrassed and makes her promise not to tell anyone. When Sophia gets home, she can‚Äôt help but look at the abundance of food in her fridge and think about her friend‚Äôs situation. Sophia keeps trying to bring food to school for her friend but…some foods aren‚Äôt meant to be kept in a backpack all day! Maddi also helps Sophia in the best way a friend can; through encouragement and support. This is one of my favorite books about friendship because it is quietly powerful and memorable. Vogel‚Äôs bright comic-style digital art illustrations add a charm to the book. Teachers and parents, keep an eye on this book for your little ones.

Recommended for: All ages especially 1st grade and up
Great for: Social issues, Discussion, Diversity, Classroom, Volunteering, Friendship, Poverty, Homelessness, Sharing
Book Info: Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt/Illustrated by Vin Vogel, 2014 Flashlight Press,¬†ISBN: 9781936261291