Showing posts from August, 2021

Listen by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

  Listen   by Gabi Snyder illustrated by Stephanie Graegin Review Copy from Simon & Schuster   Listen is one of those magical picture books that, on the surface, seems like an effortless story about the sounds all around us. It's the kind of book that makes some (overly self-confident) types say, "I could have written that . . . " Having worked as a librarian, bookseller, and assistant to a literary agent who represents some very talented people from the world of children's books, I have read thousands of published books and manuscripts and very few of them tell a story and capture experiences of engaging, feeling and empathizing the way Snyder and Graegin do here. To read  Listen  is to listen - the text and illustrations are so powerful that you genuinely experience the story along with the protagonist. Snyder includes superlative back matter that expands on and deepens the experience of reading this marvelous book. I'll be honest, as I read the first pages

Charlie and Mouse Lost and Found by Laurel Snyder, Illustrated by Emily Hughes, 48 pp, RL 1.5

  Charlie and Mouse Lost and Found  by Laurel Snyder Illustrated by Emily Hughes Review copy from Chronicle Books It's rare that I review more than the first book in a series, but I have always loved beginning readers with perfectly paired main characters, which siblings Charlie and Mouse most definitely are. And, to paraphrase words from my review of the first book in this superb series, writing a beginning reader is like writing poetry. There is an economy of language required because every word is important, both for the weight it carries in telling the story and for readability. Part of what makes Snyder's writing and storytelling so magical and unforgettable is the meaning she imbues into what is a connected and caring sibling relationship existing in the embrace of a loving and accepting family, To this, Snyder, and Hughes, with her charming illustrations, are bringing diversity to what is generally a bland genre. This beginning readers series puts non-binary, biracial ch

Every Night is Pizza Night by J. Kenji López-Alt, illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero

  Every Night is Pizza Night by J. Kenji López-Alt illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero Purchased from Ooni Pizza Ovens Every FRIDAY Night Is Pizza Night In My House! I usually avoid sharing personal stories in my book reviews, assuming that most people want a quick summary and a few details on what makes this children's book worth buying and for what kind of reader. But, how and why I came to buy Every Night Is Pizza Night has so many personal threads that I can't start the review without first untangling them. As of a year ago, I have not had a job working with children and/or children's books for the first time in twenty-five years. The pandemic upended my life, with many good, if challenging, changes. I have always loved cooking, especially for my family, and when I found myself with my two adult kids and mother living with me, my husband and my teenage son, I decided I was going to work to become a better cook. I am no slouch in the kitchen and our family has always eaten

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, RL 1.5

  See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog   by David LaRochelle illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka Review Copy from Candlewick Press Reading and reviewing the superlative,   How to Apologize  last month, I discovered that this was not the first time LaRochelle and Wohnoutka had worked together. They teamed up for MOO! in 2013 and in 2021,  See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog , won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award! While thematically different,  See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog  is every bit as engaging, entertaining and educational. Where How to Apologize is ideal for social-emotional learning,  See the Cat  is perfect for emerging readers. And, both books are very fun to read out loud and listen to. See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog  is one of my favorite kinds of picture books - the words tell a different story than the pictures. Of course, you get a feel for this on the cover of the book, where you see Max, the dog, peering up at the title, eyebrows raised. The surprise of

Clash (CLICK Series #4) by Kayla Miller, coloring by Jess Lome, Lettering by Micah Myers, 224 pp, RL: 4

    Clash  CLICK Series #4 by Kayla Miller coloring by Jess Lome, Lettering by Micah Myers Published by ETCH & p urchased from Barnes & Noble Olive, the main character in Kayla Miller's superb series of graphic novels, is one of my favorite fictional middle school characters. In  CLICK , she finds the confidence to be herself and do her own thing rather than trying to fit into one of the various groups of friends she has. In  CAMP     Olive struggles when she and her best friend Willow have very different experiences at sleep away camp, then in  ACT , the knowledge that some students can't afford to go on class field trips inspires Olive make changes, first by peaceful protesting and then by running for student body. Olive grows and her character deepens in each novel in the series as she faces social and personal challenges with the support of her mother and Aunt Molly. While my descriptions here are streamlined, Miller's stories always have an authenticity that

The Bug Club by Elise Gravel, 56 pp, RL 3

  The Bug Club  by Elise Gravel Review Copy from Drawn & Quarterly You hear a lot about the importance of voice in the world of fiction, children's books and adults, but I rarely hear it being mentioned when it comes to non-fiction. As someone who prefers to read fiction, I definitely need a few hooks to reel me in to a non-fiction book, and I'm sure there are more than a few young readers out there like me. When it comes to voice, Elise Gravel has volumes of it, both in her words and pictures. Gravel's illustrations hooked me immediately. With a muted palette that is a bit unexpected in a children's book, her comic-like (and comedic) illustrations are so inviting. Every character looks friendly, no matter how weird, silly or even angry they may appear. Once you have opened the cover of one of Gravel's books, you are treated to her equally inviting narrative voice and compassionate mindset. Be it board books, picture books, leveled readers, field guides or middl