Good Night, Baddies

Image Credit: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), Deborah Underwood/Juli Kangas

Image Credit: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), Deborah Underwood/Juli Kangas

After a long day of scaring, huffing & puffing, and being downright wicked, a baddie needs rest too. What?? You think baddies can’t relax and unwind? Tsk, Tsk! Shame on you! ¬†ūüėČ

In Good Night, Baddies, all the familiar “bad guys” from our beloved tales travel back to their castle after a long day of being bad. The yawns are endless¬†as they¬†relax and¬†prepare for bed. They save the impoliteness and nastiness for their jobs; home is for rest and good friends! I love a good story that flips the script and shows a different perspective. Underwood’s rhyme is just right to tell¬†this wickedly sweet story. The final line of the book is the best and kids will get a kick out of it!

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Image Credit: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), Deborah Underwood/Juli Kangas

Juli Kangas’ art is divine. Her watercolors with oil washes are soft and inviting. There’s nothing scary about the baddies; they’re quite warm and inviting as they dine, read and laugh together. Her attention to detail is amazing and each scene is very¬†well composed and executed. But beware! Reading this book may put you to sleep; the combination of Underwood’s quiet rhyme and Kangas’ soft candle lit scenes and sunsets will lull you away. Enjoy this one while snuggled in bed with someone you love and click here to listen to the Good Night, Baddies Song written and performed by the author herself!

P.S. The endpapers are lovely! This book opens with a very classic sephia leaf design that highlights every baddie being, well, bad. But the final endpaper shows all the baddies tucked in for the night; lost in dreamland. So cute!

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Animals, Fairytales, Fractured Fairytales, Personalities, Perspective, Rhyme, Read-Aloud, Lullaby
Book Info: Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood/Illustrations by Juli Kangas, 2016 Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), ISBN: 9781481409841

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Guess Who, Haiku

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Image Credit: Abrams Appleseed (Abrams), Deanna Caswell/Bob Shea

I’m always up for a fun animal book and this one combines haiku with an animal guessing game. How clever is that?

It’s never too early to share the beauty of poetry with children and this book is a great introduction to the awesome that is haiku. The format of Guess Who, Haiku is very simple; it begins with a haiku and a picture-clue and readers are encouraged to guess the animal. Can you guess who leaves a fresh pail of milk in the morning…moo moo! Children turn the page to see the answer and then onto the next haiku! The final haiku is clever¬†and readers will enjoy.¬†Caswell includes, at the end of the book, a clear and playful explanation of haiku and syllables. Her haikus are very creative and pretty.

Bob Shea’s art is always great and really POPS. Like his many adoring kid¬†fans, I’m drawn to his work. He’s a master of “simple but complex” and little ones will enjoy the bright colors and cute animals in this book.

Snuggle up in a chair and explore Guess Who, Haiku. It’s great for multiple reads because though the surprise aspect might be gone, haiku are very visual and can spark great discussions about nature.¬†Make haiku together and get creative!

  bright, cute animals

read the haiku to find them

a delightful read

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Poetry, Haiku, Animals, Discussion, Imagination, Vocabulary
Book Info: Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell/Illustrated by Bob Shea, 2016 Abrams Appleseed (Abrams), ISBN: 9781419718892

Horrible Bear!

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Image Credit: Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), Ame Dyckman/Zachariah OHora

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and calm down. Anger and frustration are normal but how we make others feel is important.

“HORRIBLE BEAR!” shouts a spunky, freckled girl after her kite flies into a bear’s den. The bear rolls over in its sleep and accidentally snaps the kite in two. >_< ¬†While the girl angrily stomps down the mountain and back home, Bear wakes up frustrated and annoyed (he’s quite amicable!). Bear comes up with a¬†real¬†HORRIBLE BEAR¬†idea and turns into a roaring-destroying-machine and stomps after her. Thankfully the girl realizes that sometimes a mistake really is just a mistake and she shouldn’t be so quick to judge. “I’m sorry” goes quite a long way!

This is such a well written, paced and illustrated picture book. My favorite line is towards the end of the book. OHora’s acrylic illustrations are, as always, BOLD and full of heart. He has an excellent understanding of color and his characters always have a strong presence. I love the black outline he uses and the end papers are so simple and clever.

Check out Horrible Bear! with your little ones; it’s great for teaching kindness and forgiveness.

P.S. Beware that after enjoying this book you might walk around shouting HORRIBLE BEAR! all the time…

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Patience, Respect, Calm Down, Animals, Lessons, Forgiveness
Book Info: Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman/Illustrated by Zachariah OHora, 2016 Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ISBN: 9780316282833

The Great Pet Escape

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Image Credit: Henry Holt and Company (MacMillan), Victoria Jamieson

What do YOUR pets do when you’re gone? Plan escape? World domination? Sniff their butts?

Victoria Jamieson’s (winner of the Newbery Honor for¬†Roller Girl) brand new graphic novel about three classroom pets and their¬†clever¬†plan to escape their elementary school is pure fun. Ringleader GW is a tenacious hamster with cute, lovey-eyes during the school day but as soon as the kids are gone…flee to the secret laboratory!! Little do the kids know, GW is an inventor and is super determined to convince friends Biter and Barry to escape. Unfortunately, they meet their match in a tyrant mouse named Napoleon who strives to keep things nice and orderly. There’s something to be said for seniority! >_<

What shines about The Great Pet Escape is the¬†writing; witty lines, clever jokes and snappy banter between characters make for a fun read! Jamieson has stepped up her humor and¬†I’m loving it; kids will get a kick out of how silly this book is. As usual, her art is¬†great! With bold colors, exciting¬†panels and characters with great expressions, this one is a hoot.

Another thing I love about this book¬†is that it’s a great option for budding readers. I’m always looking for quality beginning readers and this is now on my “to-recommend” list for adventurous young readers who want to laugh out loud! I hope you’ll check out The Great Pet Escape and enjoy the shenanigans!

 

Recommended for: Age 6 and up
Great for: Humor, Animals, Friendship, Determination, Rivals, Ingenuity, Teamwork, Inventions, Imagination, Graphic Novel
Book Info: The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson, 2016 Henry Holt and Company (MacMillan), ISBN: 9781627791052

Play * Learn * Do: Let’s Bake a Cake!

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Image Credit: Twirl Books (Chronicle Books), Anne-Sophie Baumann, Hélène Convert, Audrey Simon Maillot

Drumroll please…this is the first interactive board book I’m reviewing on my blog and I’m QUITE excited about it!

Twirl is a French publisher and their books are distributed through Chronicle Books here in the US. Their board books are very nicely illustrated and well designed. Similar to this one, there’s a My First Tool Box¬†lift-the-flap activity book that‚Äôs also very engaging and cute.

Play * Learn * Do: Let‚Äôs Bake a Cake is perfect for little ones who love to help out in the kitchen or pretend to cook. There are handles on top for taking it on the go and the book takes children through¬†preparation, baking and decoration of a cake. Older children can read the¬†recipe to properly ‚Äúmeasure‚ÄĚ the flour and sugar and younger ones will enjoy the colors and¬†moving the parts around;¬†Let‚Äôs Bake a Cake! has some amazing paper engineering.

Baking is hard work so there are cute little mice to help you out! The illustrations in this book are very sweet, just like the raspberry sauce you‚Äôll ‚Äúpour‚ÄĚ over the finished cake! Important baking and safety tips like carefully measuring, finding a grownup to set the oven and being careful of a hot pan are included for children to learn. I‚Äôm very happy with this interactive board book and I think little ones will enjoy pretending to make a cake! Check it out and get baking! Yum! ūüôā

 

Recommended for: Toddlers, Early Readers
Great for: Cooking, Pretend Play, Vocabulary, Interactive, Imagination, Animals
Book Info: Learn * Play * Do: Let’s Bake a Cake!¬†¬†Text & Interactive Conception by Anne-Sophie Baumann/Illustrated by¬†H√©l√®ne Convert/Paper Engineering by Audrey Simon Maillot, 2016 Twirl Books¬†(Chronicle Books),¬†ISBN: 9791027601400

Quackers

Quackers

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Penguin Random House), Liz Wong

It’s hard being a cat-duck…duck-cat…cat duckity duck. Something like that.

When it boils down to it, at one point or another we all struggle with our identity and it can be hard figuring out¬†where you fit in. In this delightful book, Quackers knows that he’s a duck since he’s surrounded ducks but why does he look different? One day he meets another duck (that looks like him!!) and learns that he’s something called a cat…curious. After spending a day with the cats, though he does love doing cat things, he starts to miss his feathered friends. The duck life is quite nice; Quackers is happy being a cat AND a duck!

Liz Wong’s artwork is very sweet. With a palette of mostly grays, whites, oranges and beautiful greens,¬†she takes us to a duck pond and the farm. Pretty shades of green,¬†swaying grasses contrast with Quacker’s bright orange and brown fur and the white feathers of the ducks. She’s awesome at drawing expressions! Half the fun of the book is reading the speech bubbles and looking at the characters’ expressions.

Hope you’ll take time to enjoy Quackers with your family and classroom. What a great debut! ūüôā

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Humor, Identity, Acceptance, Fitting In, Friendship, Relationships, Family, Discussion, Animals
Book Info: Quackers by Liz Wong, 2016 Alfred A. Knopf (Penguin Random House), ISBN: 9780553511543

 

 

 

 

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook

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Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Anne Vittur Kennedy

This is, hands down, one of the funniest picture books of 2015! Love it. It makes me miss my crazy Ibizan hound Loki and his shenanigans…

In Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook, Ragweed is a confident little fellow. He wrote a handbook¬†so that other dogs can follow his lead on how to be the best farm dog ever. Ragweed¬†tells us all the things that are not a¬†farm dog’s job BUT…if a farm dog were to do them, there¬†might¬†be biscuits involved. He really shouldn’t wake the farmer but…if he does he’ll get a biscuit to go away! He knows EXACTLY what he’s doing. The writing of this book is very formulaic and funny and kids will be able to follow along easily. There’ll be lots of laughs and maybe a few “ewwws” too? ūüėČ

Anne Vittur Kennedy’s beautiful acrylic paintings really create the spirit of farm life and Ragweed is so adorable! That little scoundrel with his huge eyes, scraggly hair and long snout is sure to win your heart. He also has great expressions and the animals do too (they know to keep an eye on him!). Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Humor, Animals, Dogs, Relationships, Farm Life, Love, Read-Aloud
Book Info: Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook¬†by Anne Vittur Kennedy, 2015 Candlewick Press,¬†ISBN: 9780763674175

Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert

MartindePorres

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Gary D. Schmidt/David Diaz

Martin de Porres was born to an African/Native slave mother and a Spanish nobleman father in the barrios of Lima, Peru. The priest of a cathedral reluctantly baptized him, not knowing or caring that Martin would grow to be a true man of God. Martin lived with his mother and sister in poverty until he was 8 years old when his father came and took them to Ecuador. Martin came back to Lima to be an apprentice to a surgeon (a cirujano) and excelled at it.

Because he was African, people were prejudiced towards him but his skills were obvious. He was gifted lemon seeds for helping a man and after planting them, the next day a tree grew. At fifteen he wanted to become a priest but was denied the opportunity due to his mixed-blood. He offered to clean, wash and care for the monastery instead. People started to notice his gift with animals and his amazing healing powers. He performed miracles. Everyone, from the poor to the rich, came to him when in need. After many years of service he was allowed to become a priest, was finally seen as a brother, and continued his good deeds until his death.

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Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Gary D. Schmidt/David Diaz

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and soft. I also love Diaz’ work in Wilma Unlimited. He has a very distinct style. My favorite spread shows Martin blissfully surrounded by a horse, chickens, mice and dogs. They all show their love and appreciation for him and he gives it back just as much.

To his mother, Martin was always a Rose in the Desert but finally, despite his brown skin and heritage, he was seen as the true rose he was, by everyone. Martin de Porres was beatified in 1837 and finally canonized in 1962. He is the first black saint in the Americas! How fitting this caring and spiritual man of color be named the patron saint of brotherhood, those of mixed race, animal shelters, interracial relations and social justice!

I like finding unique stories. I’m glad to be able to share this one with you for Black History Month. ūüôā

 

Recommended for: 1st grade and up
Great for: Catholicism, Saints, Miracles, Mixed-Race, Injustice, Discrimination, Peru, Helping Others, Animals, Community Service, Love, Black History Month, Black History Month Children’s Books, Non-Fiction, Discussion, Biography
Book Info: Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt/Illustrated by David Diaz, 2012 Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), ISBN: 9780547612188

 

My Fuzzy!! by Alia Jones

A review I wrote for Nerdy Book Club! OWEN is one of my all time favorites. ūüôā

Nerdy Book Club

Kevin Henkes has won several awards for excellence in illustration and writing. Most recently he won a Caldecott Honor and a Geisel Honor for Waiting, which is a beautiful book. Not only is he a skilled illustrator, he’s a powerful storyteller and when I think of stories that have heavily influenced how I critique (and enjoy) picture books, his always come to mind.

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I first read Owen when I was a little girl and that little mouse and his blanket have stayed with me. I’d read it over and over again and even as I read it now, I can’t help but crack a smile because it’s so clever and funny! Many people rally around Chrysanthemum and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (deservedly so) but I want to show some love for little Owen and his awesome parents. It’s ultimately a book about relationships.

Owen is the story of a…

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Water is Water

WaterisWater

Image Credit: A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan), Miranda Paul/Jason Chin

In this rhythmical, science read-aloud, we follow a brother and sister through seasons and the water cycle. Like the water cycle, the story is cyclical. It starts in spring-time when the siblings spot a lone turtle in their pond. Water goes into a glass and in a dish for the turtle but it also becomes steam for the hot cocoa they share with their father! Miranda Paul tells a story of water changing in a unique way. Steam is steam but it also changes form to become clouds, which can form low to become fog and on and on.

As I write this review, there’s a light rain and it’s very foggy where I am. Snow is leftover from¬†yesterday and it’s starting to melt as the rain hits it. Maybe I should call my¬†friends and have a¬†snowball fight like the children in this book?! ¬†ūüôā ¬†Jason Chin does an amazing job of pairing Miranda Paul’s poetic lines with bright and colorful illustrations. He creates a very complete world with his art; after finishing Water is Water, I felt like I knew how to travel from the family’s house to the lake, to school and back again! His watercolor and gouache clouds and fall leaves are beautiful and I enjoyed little details like the reflective,¬†wet pavement on the school grounds.

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Image Credit: A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan), Miranda Paul/Jason Chin

The facts at the back of the book about the water cycle are GREAT because they¬†refer to scenes¬†in the book. Children can make connections between the story’s words, illustrations and terms like “evaporation.” This book is for storytime and¬†for¬†science class! Paul writes in an easy to understand way that young children can grasp. The story will make them smile and by the end of the book, they’ll understand how water moves from form to form.

Oh and hey, the children’s parents are black and white!! The story isn’t ABOUT their interracial family…they just happen to be so. It’s a quietly powerful display of diversity. Also the siblings’ friends are very diverse and happy. I love seeing happy children of many ethnicities in a picture book.

Be sure to check out Water is Water with your classroom and family…and go out and play in the rain!!

 

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Family, Friendship, Relationships, Diversity, Weather, Seasons, Science, Water Cycle, Recycling, Imagination, Community, Animals, Nature, Read-Aloud, Rhythm
Book Info: Water is Water by Miranda Paul/Illustrated by Jason Chin, A Neal Porter Book, 2015 Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan), ISBN: 9781596439849