Showing posts from 2017

A Little House Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie adapted from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renée Graef

Somehow I made it through my childhood without reading a single book by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Fortunately, My husband did and we read the whole series out loud, taking turns, to my daughter starting when she was four. I fell in love with the books and still think often about all the changes Wilder saw in her lifetime. Around the time that we started reading Wilder's books out loud to my daughter, paper back picture book adaptations of her Little House series with magnificent illustrations by Renée Graef who also illustrated the Kirsten books in the American Girls series. Now, you can get six of them, including winter and Christmas stories in A Little House Picture Book Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie. I think there were 12 - 15 picture book adaptations originally published about 20 years ago, and, curiously, this collection does not present the books in chronological order and not all stories happen during the Ingalls's time living on the prairie, despite the title…

Bear's Merry Book of Hidden Things by Gergely Dudás

Taking a plane, train or car anywhere for the holidays? Have kid(s) ranging in age from 4 - 10? Then Bear's Merry Book of Hidden Things by Gergely Dudás is a MUST! More than most look-and-find books, Bear's Merry Book of Hidden Things has a narrative. Bear has invited all his friends to a special holiday party and needs to shop and decorate. Readers follow Bear through all the preparations, from shopping the Christmas market for gifts, cards, cookies, hats and mittens to picking a tree, hanging lights and picking candies and baked goods to share. Dudás's illustrations are charming and colorful. I especially love the page filed with happy hedgehogs where Bear is looking for a pinecone. Dudás's gift for hiding things is masterful - this book is not easy! Try finding the turtledove amongst the snowmen or the mug of hot cocoa hidden amidst penguins. Bear's Merry Book of Hidden Things is well worth the cost, even if you aren't taking any long trips with your kids!

JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life: #peaceouthaterz by Jo Jo Siwa, 229 pp, RL 4

When I started reviewing books in 2008 I decided that I would not review a book that I didn't like and wouldn't spend my own money on, if I hadn't already. Working as a elementary school librarian with a diverse (socioeconomically and culturally) has changed my perspective and review policies a bit. Just because I might not want my own kids to read a certain book (or have to read it myself), it doesn't mean that my students might not enjoy and benefit from a book. With that in mind, I am reviewing JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life: #peaceouthaterz by fourteen-year-old YouTube star, JoJo Siwa.
This year, I began noticing quite a few girls wearing large, cheerful bows in their hair. About the same time, I read an article about these bows and their creator in the New York Times. While the words, "YouTube Personality," set my teeth on edge, JoJo seemed harmless enough, and maybe possibly even a positive presence. When a handful of students showed up dressed like …

The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup, illustrated by Brett Helquist, 336 pp, RL 4

The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup with illustrations by Brett Helquist is a holiday gift, wrapped in a marvelously rich tapestry of mice, ballet, tradition and change and life in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1892. Kladstrup's story is a deeply engaging, page-turner, made even more vivid by Helquist's detailed illustrations. Esmerelda is a young mouse cast as Clara in the Russian Mouse Ballet Company's debut production of The Nutcracker, which will coincide with the ballet's (human) debut at the famous Mariinsky Theater. In fact, the Russian Mouse Ballet Company exists hidden in the walls of the Mariinsky, benefitting from the human musicians. But, there are many challenges facing the Russian Mouse Ballet. An illness that swept through the colony of mice living in the theater a few years back has diminished their  troupe. There are mousetraps all over the theater and food for the mice is scares. And, possibly worst of all, of late the mice have been preferring to watch…

My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure is amazing to being with, but when I realized that  Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini designed this fantastic readable craft, I was especially excited. Not only has Terrazini designed covers for Puffin's classic children's books, but she provided the stunning updated illustrations for Jane Yolen's fairy tale, The Seeing Stick. From start to finish, My Miniature Library is a marvelously designed product. The box itself looks like a classic children's book while the inside converts into a charming room with a press-out bookcase that holds all 30 books, once they are completed. Below are pictures from my desk as I made my own books! Each book has several illustrations and beautiful covers. Construction of the books is well planned and quite easy. Using accordion folds and a little glue, the hardest part is cutting the page-strips and covers out in straight lines and creasing the covers smoothly. However, even without…

The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli

The marvelous Greg Pizzoli is gifting us with a Christmas book this season! The 12 Days of Christmas is overflowing with Pizzoli's charming characters and his unique, slightly retro palette of pale reds and greens with gentle shades of grey bringing balance. Without changing the traditional carol, Pizzoli brings a new perspective to the song. A young elephant and her/his parent are decorating the tree when another young elephant stops by with a gift - a partridge in a pear tree. As the days of Christmas unfurl and the gifts keep arriving, the parent elephant's anxiety over a house filling with fowl increases. Pizzoli brings humor to the song as the parent elephant tries to cope with the new houseguests, but patience wears thin. Another twist Pizzoli brings to the carol comes on the eighth day when the maids a-milking appear in the form of cute mice carrying milk cartons. From there, the ladies dancing, lords a-leaping, pipers piping and drummers drumming are all clever and charm…

Press Out + Color Christmas Ornaments by Kate McLelland AND Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas by Sarah Walsh

Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas by Sarah Walsh is the perfect craft for creative kids that is sure to inspire creative gift giving as well. The beautiful designs, which cover both sides of the page, call for patience and perseverance - and some very sharp colored pencils or markers with small tips. The boxes are easy to punch out and assemble and there are 24 gold foil stickers for keeping them closed. More Gift Boxes by Sarah Walsh:

Press Out + Color Christmas Ornaments by Kate McLelland is filled with 20 designs that can be slotted together to turn a 2D ornament into a 3D ornament. Each ornament - bells, stars, snowflakes, Christmas trees, nutcrackers and nesting dolls - is embossed with gold foil that can be colored in or painted over.  More Press Out + Color from Kate McLelland:

 Source: Review Copies

The Little Book of Little Activists

The Little Book for Little Activists opens with an introduction from Bob Bland, the co-chair of the Women's March on Washington (and fashion designer and creator of the Nasty Woman t-shirts) and ends with an afterword from Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the author of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. In between are quotes from girls aged 14 and under and images of girls and boys from the Women's March on Washington holding handmade signs.  This is an important book, small but powerful and one every child should have access to. This is a book you (adult or child) can turn to when you are feeling powerless and defeated, scared and alone and hopeless, as so many political and world events have left me feeling lately (and repeatedly) and find strength and wisdom - from the mouths and minds of children. There are also short definitions and explanations of Activism, Feminism, Democracy, the First Amendment Rights, Freedom and Protests. The ima…

Nutcracked by Susan Adrian, 240 pp, RL 4

Nutcracked by Susan Adrian, with wonderful cover artStevie Lewis is a little sugarplum of a book perfect for this time of year. Georgie's life is divided, "like the pie charts you do in math." She has won role of Clara in the second cast of her ballet school's annual production of The Nutcracker. She is over the moon, having felt a special connection to this ballet since she was five years old and her grandfather "bought me my green velvet dress and took me to see the show at the Wilson Theater." But, Georgie's beloved grandfather is in hospital, unconscious and now her best friend Kaitlyn has stopped speaking to her and quit ballet. On top of it all, when Georgie holds the antique nutcracker belonging to the head of the ballet school, Mrs. Cavanaugh, née Drosselmeyer, she finds herself transported, in miniature size, to the toy workshop of the Drosselmeyer where the Nutcracker is trapped behind glass in a wooden box, the Mouse King ready to battle. In …

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. Morrow, illustrated by James Ransome

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. Morrow and illustrated by James Ransome marvelously sets the stage for a retelling of E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic Christmas story in Sugar Hill during the Harlem Renaissance. Morrow, a journalist and playwright, worked as a stagehand for the Dance Theater of Harlem, and wanted his story to be set in a place where he had, "seen the power of music and dance transform people, performers and audiences alike." Morrow's adaptation of The Nutcracker and Ransome's vibrant illustrations bring new vision to a classic story, even making Cab Calloway and Adelaide Hall, a vocalist with Duke Ellington's band, part of the story. "It was snowing in Harlem on Christmas Eve," and Marie's family is having a party, the house swirling with colors and sounds. Her Uncle Cab gives her a nutcracker - a drummer boy nutcracker. Miss Addie asks Marie to sing along with her and all the other joyous partygoers, but Marie shyly declines. Falling…

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border is yet another in his series of food-as-characters picture books that I find infinitely amusing and especially entertaining. Of course, I love any picture book with food in it and Border's books do double duty with food as characters and food as part of the story at times. Merry Christmas, Peanut! finds a holiday-loving kid and his mom and dad off to grandmother's house for a Christmas Day feast. But, there seems to be one delay and obstacle after another, from a literal traffic jam to a downed bridge. Things seem hopeless. Except Peanut is an eternal optimist who whips out this (hilarious) refrain whenever things seem bleak, "Don't be sad! I'll cheer you up! I'm the Merry Christmas Nut!" Read Merry Christmas, Peanut! to the right kid and you will be hearing that refrain around your house for days to come! With every stop along the way, Peanut finds wayward nuts with nowhere to go. Of course he invites them all to gr…