Showing posts from September, 2015

The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run by Kevin Sherry, 124 pp, RL 2.0

Last year I gleefully reviewed The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry. I am so thrilled to be reviewing Monsters on the Run, the second book in what I hope is a long running series about all kinds of cryptids!
Besides the fact that The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet taught me the word "cryptid," which I work into conversations whenever I can now, I adore this book for its humor, creativity, generous illustrations, and easy readability. The Yeti Files is definitely a high interest for lower reading levels and it allows me to hook so many different kids, from struggling readers to disinterested readers to picky readers. As a librarian at a school where more than a third of students are not reading at grade level, I adore a book like The Yeti Files.
In the first book, we were introduced to narrator Blizz Richards, yeti and a cryptozoologist who works to keep cryptids safe and hidden. We get to see his lair, which is supercool, and learn more about cryptids. In the first b…

The Marvels by Brian Selznick, 672 pp. RL 4

Books like The Marvels by Brian Selznick are why I read and books like The Marvels what keep me reading, in the hopes of recreating the magical experience of being completely immersed in another world, another time. If you have read The Invention of Hugo Cabret then you know the special gift and pleasure you are in for when you hold this gorgeous 672 page tome in your hands and prepare to begin turning pages, which you may do quickly at first. The first half of the book, almost 400 pages, is comprised of illustrations, all two page spreads. I found myself lulled into a mesmeric rhythm as I scanned an illustration with my eyes then slid my hand across it to turn the page, taking in the images, piecing together the images and making sense of the story that was unfolding before me. The book trailer, made by Selznick, gives you a good taste of what you are in for when you open the covers of The Marvels

Be sure to read to the end of this review where there is another clip showing the maki…

The Bear's Surprise by Benjamin Chaud

I have reviewed quite a few of books illustrated and written and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud now. For an overview of many of his books (those published in the US) check out my review of The Bear's Sea Escape. The Bear's Surprise is the third adventure in the life of this father and son pair of bears and it has quite a few revelations!
First off, there are superb cut-outs on every page that show us where Little Bear, who is looking for his father for a change, is coming from and where he is going to in The Bear's Surprise. One page turn takes Little Bear from a pipe and out through the door of a washing machine! As always, close reading is rewarded with a trove of tiny details. From Alice falling down a rabbit hole, the White Rabbit and his pocket watch not far behind, to a wooly mammoth, cave folks curled up beside him.

Little Bear follows the trail and finds himself outside a tent, then inside and center stage where he sees Papa Bear shooting through the air on a tiny bic…

Bike On, Bear! by Cynthea Liu, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Bike On, Bear! written by Cynthea Liu and charmingly illustrated by Kristyna Litten is a fantastic new book about the childhood milestone of learning to ride a bike. And as a former bookseller, I can tell you  that there just aren't enough good picture books about this important event in almost every kid's life. 

Bear has a very hairy problem. He is smart, flexible and industrious. He does gymnastics, participates in the science fair and is there for his friends whenever they need him. Despite all this, Bear just can't learn to ride a bike! Not even a bike with training wheels! When a new park opens up with superb new bike paths that DO NOT allow training wheels, Bear knows he needs to try something new. 
Bear's very wise mother suggests that he visit the library to find a book on how to ride a bike. He follows all four steps, especially the fourth, "Don't think about it too much," but he still has no joy. Bear's inability to learn to ride a bike eventu…

Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier

Sergio Ruzzier's new book, Two Mice, is set in the same geographical landscape as some of his other books that I have reviewed and loved, including A Letter For LeoWhose Shoe?Two Mice is a deceptively simple, pleasantly clever book that begs to be read over and over.

Two Mice begins (before the title page) with the words, "One house," and an illustration that shows the house from the outside. Inside, two mice are waking up. In the kitchen they find three cookies and a bit of friction. With minimal text - and a very fun counting pattern - Ruzzier takes these mice on an adventure that takes them far from home, then back again. The text encourages readers to pay close attention to the illustrations, which you will want to do anyway. The colors are gentle, but the sky and water can be anything from yellow to orange to red, depending on the page. And, like the text, Ruzzier's illustrations can seem simple, and the trim size of Two Mice is charmingly small, but they are r…

Where's the Pair? A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup

I love everything that Britta Teckentrup and every thing that Big Picture Press does and I love that they are working together. Both Teckentrup and Big Picture Press have superb design values making for beautiful books that are perfect for gift giving. With Where's the Pair? A Spotting Book, Teckentrup follows up on The Odd One Out: A Spotting Book, with two rhyming stanzas that tell readers what to spot. 

Teckentrup's illustration style is crisp and playful and her palette sophisticated. She uses colors you would want to do your house in, but that also work perfectly in a picture book. There are the expected animals, like cats, dogs and frogs, and then there are the yaks, otters, toucans and dragonflies.

Teckentrup does not make it easy to spot the pairs, either, which makes Where's the Pair? A Spotting Bookfun for parents and kids. And her rhymes are wonderful! "A romp of otters gathers to play, diving and swimming and splashing all day. Now it's time to nibble on…

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, 217 pp, RL 4

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm is a magnificent semi-autobiographical graphic  novel that can stand next to the works of Raina Telgemeier and Newbery Honor winner, Cece Bell, author of El Deafo. Based on book sales and the check out rate of these titles in my school library, girls and boys are hungry for graphic novels like Smile, Drama and Sisters that tell the stories of real kids facing real challenges. And, while it feels like it's happening at a slow pace and I can count the number of quality autobiographic graphic novels on one hand since Smile came out in 2010, (Roller Girl came out this year, This One Summer, the year before) this genre is gaining popularity and the additions to it are fantastic.

Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm are the sibling team who created the excellent, adventurous, sometimes silly Babymouse and Squish series of graphic novels, but with Sunny Side Upthe Holms take on difficult sibling relationships, familial bonds, drug abuse, senior c…

Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light

Have You Seen My Monster is the charming follow-up to last year's Have You Seen My Dragon? by the very creative Steve Light in which a little boy traipses through the black and white city looking for his green dragon. As the boy counts things while dragon hunting, the objects he counts pop out in bright colors. Have You Seen My Monster follows a similar pattern and, while I thought the dragon from the last book was a treat, Light's cheerful monster is downright cuddly. And, like the first book, the endpapers serve as a fantastic map of all the places visited in each book.

Have You Seen My Monster is set at a county fair with a little girl looking for her friend and finding an array of shapes as she hunts.

As she hunts for her monster high and low, from carousel to pie contest to fun house, a box in the upper right hand corner of each page names a shape that is also the only spot of color in each illustration.

Light brings a fantastic selection of shapes to Have You Seen My Monste…

If I Had a Triceratops by George O'Connor

If I Had a Triceratops is the follow-up to George O'Connor's  If I Had a Raptor and it will make you smile from start to finish when you read it out loud to your dinosaur loving little ones. If I Had a Triceratops follow the same pattern as If I Had a Raptor, with the little narrator picking out his pet and detailing all the things he would do with her.
The giant-pet-for-little-kid premise is a classic by now, by O'Connor makes it entirely entertaining with his cheerful illustrations and dedicated and loving pet owner.

From poop patrol to beds to baths, this little owner has it all figured out. Readers will enjoy hearing how he will love his triceratops while watching her wreak havoc left and right. My favorite illustration comes when she gets a bath and shakes the water off, monsoon style. Even the narrator realizes that having a pet is a lot of work, but, as he says near the end of If I Had a Triceratops, "It will all be worth it when she runs out to greet me at the e…

Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, 112 pp, RL 2

It's taken me a while to warm up to Kate DiCamillo, and I still haven't read her most popular books, Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. But I do like her weird sense of humor and the curious characters she created in books like the Mercy Watson series, which I reviewed here in 2010. The Bink & Gollie trilogy, which she created with Alison McGhee and Tony Fucile, as an absolute winner for emerging readers not quite ready forMercy Watson. And now, happily, readers who are ready for something a little meatier (no pun intended) that Mercy Watsoncan dig into the Tales of Deckawoo Drive, which finds minor characters from the Mercy Watsonbooks getting longer stories of their own! Last year, the first book in the series, Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, found the hapless thief from Mercy Watson Fights Crime taking on a new adventure - becoming a horse owner to complete his cowboy dreams. Now, we find the animal control expert who first appeared in Mercy Watson Thinks Like a…

Digby O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy,

Last year I was completely smitten by Digby O'Day: In the Fast Lane by the mother and daughter team of Shirley Hughes, a grand dame of children's literature in the UK, and the equally talented Clara Vulliamy. In the first book, we met Digby, who loves nothing more than to drive his beloved (but old) car with his pal Percy in the passenger's seat. We even find out what Digby's favorite color and favorite biscuit are. We also see Digby and Percy compete in the all day race from the village of Didsworth to the village of Dodsworth. The only thorn in Digby's side is his neighbor, Lou Ella, who buys a new pink car every year and flaunts it.
In Digby O'Day and the Great Diamond Robbery, the friends are trying to vacation at the seaside in the Hotel Splendide, but the arrival of pop star Peaches Meow and her entourage makes that challenging.
While walking along the jetty to get away from the commotion back at the hotel, Digby and Percy see a man struggling in the waves.…

Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice AND Mrs. Noodlekugel and Drooly Bear by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Adam Stower, 89 pp, RL 1.5

Way back in 2012, I reviewed the first in a new series of books that I was VERY excited about, Mrs. Noodlekugel, written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Adam Stower. Book three, Mrs. Noodlekugel and the Drooly Bear came out earlier this year and it seemed like the perfect time to call this series to your attention again or for the first time!
Mrs. Noodlekugel is could be Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's sister and Dr. Doolittle's distant cousin. She lives in a little, hidden cottage which can be reached by way of the boiler room of the high rise apartment building siblings Nick and Maxine have moved into. Mrs. Noodlekugel shares her abode with Mr. Fuzzface, a talking cat who did not speak a word of English when she met  him while working on the railroad, and the Four Farsighted Mice. Nick and Maxine are thrilled to learn that Mrs. Noodlekugel will be their occasional babysitter.

In book 2, Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice, Mrs. Noodlekugel so tired of cleaning up the crumbs, she …