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Showing posts from September, 2018

Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge, 208pp, RL 4

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Estranged  by Ethan M. Aldridge Purchased at Barnes & Noble Story: Edmund has always known he was different. He draws dragons endlessly, communicates with animals and accidentally sets his big sister's hair on fire. When a boy who looks exactly like him appears, his golem in tow, he discovers that he is a changeling - a faerie left in place of a human child. His identical, human "brother" has arrived from the underworld in search of his family, but the minions of the faerie who killed the king and queen of the fae, Edmund's true parents, come after them in the human world, they find themselves on the run and back in the underworld. There, they face dragons, witches, enchanted statues and rats and more as they try to make sense of their own relationship and stay alive. Illustrations: Aldridge's illustration style is evocative of Ben Hatke, especially the marvelous Alexis, big sister to Edmund and Childe. The world of the fae is dark, dank and crammed with danger. …

A Lion is a Lion by Polly Dunbar

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A Lion is a Lion by Polly Dunbar Review Copy from Candlewick Press Story: If a lion makes himself dapper by putting on a coat and a hat and carries an umbrella while skipping down the street singing, "Hoobie-doobie-do," should you invite him in?  A brother and sister face this challenge when a seemingly friendly lion comes calling. Dunbar's gently rhyming text carries the story along as the siblings entertain and enjoy the lion - until they learn that . . . a lion really is a lion. Pictures: I absolutely adore Dunbar's illustration style and have reviewed three other books illustrated, and often written, by her. Her illustrations of children have a sweetness to them that feels a bit British-y (maybe it's the stripped tights) and wonderful expressiveness, despite the black dots for eyes. Dunbar's animals are also filled with energy and emotion and playfulness, even when roaring. Why Read? Why Buy?: Read A Lion is a Lion because it's just plain fun. Little list…

Big Brown Bear's Cave by Yuval Zommer

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Big Brown Bear's Cave by Yuval Zommer Review Copy from Candlewick Press Story: Big Brown Bear has found the perfect cave, but he just can't settle in. Taking a stroll through a nearby neighborhood, he discovers that humans have caves too! Garages! And they are full of STUFF! Stuff must be the answer to his cave challenges, so BBB begins to fill his cave with stuff he "borrows" from the humans (who probably don't miss it at all...) When the stuff that is supposed to make him comfortable gets in the way of being with his bear buddies, the gang finds a solution. Instead of filling the cave with stuff, BBB fills the cave with his buddies and finally settles in for a good hibernation.
Pictures: Zommer's illustration style perfectly suits the chaos of the hoarder portion of the story.  He fills his pages with boxes and bits, BBB in the middle of it all trying to make it work. The two page spread when BBB sees that humans have caves too is immediately recognizable and …

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, Reading Level 2

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The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale illustrated by LeUyen Pham Review Copy from Candlewick Press Story: Princess Magnolia hops a train and heads to the Interkingdom Science Fair, her poster showing how seeds grow into plants in hand, leaving her monster-alarm ring back at the castle. The Goat Avenger is in the pasture and will take care of any monsters that decide to attack. All her princess pals are at the fair - Princess Honeysuckle has a mole habitat on display, Princess Snapdragon has an amazing demonstration with an egg and a bottle and the marvelous Princess Sneezewort has a blanket fort on display. However, something seems to be a little off with Tommy Wigtower's talking volcano...
Princess Magnolia and Princess Sneezewort duck under tables and Princess in Black and Princess in Blankets emerge to tackle the growing goo monster threatening to "EAT SCIENCE FAIR!" Together, all the princesses, disguised as their alter-egos or n…

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya, 240 pp, RL 4

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The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya Review Copy from Penguin Random House
Story: Miami native Arturo Zamora is thirteen the summer things change for him and his family. Immigrants from Cuba, Arturo's grandparents opened La Cocina de la Isla twenty years earlier in their Canal Grove neighborhood. Almost all of Arturo's aunts, uncles, and cousins have worked at La Cocina and they continue to gather every Sunday, when the restaurant closes, for family dinner. And the neighborhood loves La Concina, too. Photos of celebrations held at the restaurant  over the years adorn the walls. But, when unscrupulous developer Wilfrido Pipo comes to Canal Grove with the promise of prosperity for all in the name of a high rise on the very land where La Cocina sits, the Zamoras begin to worry. With the help of Carmen, a family friend visiting from Spain, Arturo investigates Pipo and his plans for gentrification, as well as the validity of the promises he is making the residents of Canal …

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! & Volume 2: A Recipe for Disaster by Natalie Riess, 100 pp, RL: 5

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Space Battle Lunchtime, Volumes 1 & 2 by Natalie Reiss Purchased at Barnes & Noble Story: Originally an eight issue comic series, Lights, Camera, Snacktion! and A Recipe for Disaster deliver issues 1 - 4 and 5 - 8 respectively with original issue covers serving as chapter headings. At the start of Space Battle Lunchtime, our hero Peony is an aspiring baker working in coffee house when she attracts the attention of Zonda, alien assistant to the producer of Space Battle Lunchtime, one of the most popular cooking competition shows seen throughout the universe.  Peony is instantly transported to a studio in space where she will compete with six other chefs in the newest season of the show. Unfortunately, cooking with mysterious intergalactic ingredients and appliances while fellow contestants are trying to sabotage her is the least of Peony's worries. After clashing with fellow contestant, the mysterious ly brooding Neputina, the two bond over Peony's cupcakes. But, when Peon…

How to Knit a Monster by Annemarie van Haeringen

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How to Knit a Monster by Annemarie van Haeringen Review Copy from HMH Books Story: Greta is a goat who is very good at knitting. In fact, she is so good at knitting that one day she decides to knit a goat - just a small one. Soon, her house is filled with frolicking (knitted) little goats! When Mrs. Sheep blusters in saying she is a much better knitter, Greta is distracted. Soon, a knitted wolf jumps off her needles and gobbles up Mrs. Sheep. Greta hastily knits a tiger to take care of the wolf then has to knit something to stop the tiger. She knits a monster, saves the day and even manages to unravel him with a, "Riffle raffle riffle raffle whoosh," Mrs. Sheep emerging intact, but, well, a bit sheepish. As Greta returns to her knitting, a basket full of green skeins of yarn, she thinks about knitting fresh grass for the little goats. As she knits and daydreams she doesn't watch her knitting and... Pictures: van Haeringen's illustrations are all lines and evocative of ya…

Sun by Sam Usher

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Sun by Sam Usher Review Copy from Templar Publishing Story: The third of four books in the, "Seasons with Granddad" series finds our narrator and his grandfather planning a picnic on the hottest day of the summer. Acting as the lookout while Granddad navigates, the two gather their provisions and head out. Despite the sun beating down, they make their way to a cave where they find pirates. Helping the pirates gather their provisions, they all share a picnic at the end of their adventure. Back home and cooled off, Granddad says, "If you keep looking you never know what you might find." Pictures: With his pen and ink drawings, Usher's illustrations are reminiscent of the work of Quentin Blake. His characters express curiosity and excitement as they explore dramatic terrains. My favorite part of Sun comes at the very end when the adventure has ended and you see the narrator and his grandfather at the kitchen table, the elements of their "adventure" surround…