Showing posts from June, 2014

My Bus by Byron Barton

I have yet to review a book by Byron Barton here, but he takes up quite a bit of shelf space in the board book section with his fantastic, mostly transportation themed, books. Brightly colorful, with bold, blocky illustrations, Barton has a way with simplicity that is attractive to toddlers. In My Bus, Barton hits a grand slam with several forms of vehicles making an appearance AND a bus filled with furry passengers, giving listeners the chance to add animal sounds! He also throws in some counting practice for good measure.

Joe drives his bus around town (Sam drives in the companion book, My Car) and picks up passengers and takes them to the boat, the train and the plane. The illustrations of the cats and dogs looking out the windows of the various transports is pretty funny.

At the end of the day, Joe parks his bus and he and his dog head home in his car and the moon shines down on his empty bus. It's hard to convey how wonderful a simple book likeMy Bus is in a written review. Rea…

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

The Watermelon Seed, Greg Pizzoli's debut picture book, is also the winner of the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award, and honor that often goes to Mo Willems's dynamic, neurotic duo, Elephant& Piggie. This is apt, as Pizzoli's melon-munching-crocodile is every bit as expressive and engaging as Willems's characters and his illustration style, while equally simplistic, is more elegant in execution and color palette. 

The story begins with the croc expressing a deep, constant love for watermelon, including a "big salty slab for dinner" and of course, watermelon for dessert. 

When the crocodile accidentally swallows a seed, the love story turns into a pint-sized horror story as he imagines all the possible things that can happen now. However, a grumbling tummy and an enormous burp that is sure to get laughs, turn things around again - mostly.
Pizzoli's crocodile expresses the anxieties and fears natural in all little watermelon eaters in a gentle and humorous way w…

Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout, 130 pp, RL 3

It's been so long since I read (and reviewed) a Judy Moody or Stink book (6 years!) that I forgot how much I love both of these characters - especially when their series cross paths. Double rare! Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds have created truly memorable characters in these siblings. On top of that, way back in 2005, five years after the debut of the first Judy Moody, McDonald was THE FIRST  author to write a chapter book for beginning readers at a slightly lower level than a traditional chapter book like Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones.  Last year, other publishers finally caught on to the immense need for this kind of book and now there are enough of them on the shelves for me to create the label Bridge Chapter Books. Judy Moody and Stink: The Big Bad Blackout is written more at the level of a  Judy Moody book, but I have no doubt that fans ofStink will want to stretch their reading muscles to get in on the fun. Another thing that makes the joint Judy Moody-Stink books…

Judy Moody and Friends: Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid, 60 pp, RL 2

Jessica Finch in Pig Troubleis the first of two books in a new beginning reader series featuring some old favorites,Judy Moody and Friends! The Judy Moody series, which is roughly a 3rd grade reading level, debuted in 2000 and Stink, the series featuring Judy's little brother, written at a low 2nd grade level, appeared in 2005. Good books written at a 3rd grade reading level are hard to come by, and chapter books like Stink that are a bit of an easier read than Magic Tree House were double rare until last year. Now, McDonald is bringing her beloved cast of characters to newly independent readers in this new series.

Jessica Finch loves pigs and, with her birthday approaching, she is desperate to know if her parents have purchased that pot bellied pig she has been asking for. Jessica invites Judy over to her house to help search for presents but the girls only turn up a board game with pigs that they end up opening and playing. But, a few twists and turns, some Pig Latin and UN-frien…

Lizzy Bennet's Diary by Marcia Williams, inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, 112 pp, RL: 4

I was familiar with the fantastic books of Marcia Williams when I discovered Lizzy Bennet's Diary and honestly would not have even opened this book if it had been written by almost anyone else. Curious about the origins of Lizzy Bennet's Diary, which is somewhat different from Williams's other books (see below) I turned immediately to the "Dear Reader" pages at the end of the book. There Williams shares that she was inspired to create Lizzy Bennet's Diary "after reading Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice for about the tenth time!" Knowing that creating this scrapbook diary was personal passion for Williams and that the quality in content and illustration and playfulness that she brings to her adaptations of other famous works as well as her original inspirations decided it for me. While I am still not entirely sure of the young audience for Lizzy Bennet's Diary, I do think that this is a book worth calling attention to. 


The Story of Buildings by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty, 96 pp, RL 4

For those of you not familiar with the amazing work of Stephen Biesty, be sure to read my review ofInto the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea and Air, written by Stewart Ross. Sadly, most of Biesty's cross section books are now out of print, but his work shines even brighter when he pairs with other authors, as in Into the Unknown, and now The Story of Buildings, written by Patrick Dillon. On writing The Story of Buildings, Dillon says, "My two favorite things are stories and buildings. Telling stories about buildings is as good as it gets." Dillon begins The Story of Buildingswith building a house, writing, "How people left caves and learned to make places like your home is the story of buildings." From a stick shelter to the various kinds of brickwork (English, Flemish and American) to igloos, teepees, tents and a Musgum hut, Dillon takes readers on a journey through time that provides a solid overview for the more detailed information…

The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain! by Tom Angleberger, 134 pp, RL 3

Of course any book with the word "poop" in the title is going to catch my attention - and that of most young readers. But the fact that  a book with the word "poop" in the title is authored by the fantastic Tom Angleberger makes it a MUST READ. Originally published in 2007 by Dial Books as The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger and now out of print, Abrams Amulet has republished it with a new title, new cover art (by the awesome Jen Wang, who illustrated Fake Mustache) and without the pseudonym. Having not read the original, I can't comment on further differences. The QwickPick Papers: Poop Fountain! by Tom Angleberger is the first in a series and I can't wait to read more!
First, the plot, then I'll extoll on the talents of the author himself. Angleberger begins The QwickPick Papers: Poop Fountain!with a note to the reader, sharing the origins of this story. Working as a newspaper reporter early in his career as a writer, Angleberger covered…