Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Light Fantastic

To make a book about school shootings stand out among an influx of young adult books about the topic takes skill and in her new novel The Light Fantastic Combs delivers with detailed characters and a unique premise. Told from several different points of view, the novel covers the span of a few hours across multiple time zones as a new day starts and a nationwide school shooting epidemic begins.

See the full review at Cleaver Magazine.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What We Read This Week 10/16

It's Raining Bats and Frogs by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Steven Henry. A young witch is determined to make the witch parade run smoothly, despite the sudden rain! I will post a more in-depth review on this one in my Halloween book spotlight!

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, illustrated by Cale Atkinson. I will review this book more in-depth soon, but for now... it's just gorgeous. The story is fun because of all the mythological creatures, but the illustrations are so beautiful. Kids will love this one!

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson. This is a beautifully illustrated book about two very different explorers who bump into each other in the wild. They bond over their love of adventures and form a friendship. I can't say it enough - GORGEOUS illustrations.

How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mark Fearing. My son and I loved this book about how refusing to eat your veggies can save you...but it's a necessary evil. See also: The Lima Bean Monster by Dan Yaccarino. 

Little Big by Jonathan Bentley.  This is a cute book about a baby who dreams about everything he could do if he was bigger. 

Bulldozer's Big Day by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann. Bulldozer is excited to invite his friends to his birthday party, but everyone is too preoccupied with work to even recognize what a special day it is! My son and I love these cute illustrations, and try to identify which machine is which before the text tells us. I really like the black outline on the pages, too - it seems pretty unique for a picture book.

Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. My son loved this book about a boy who dreams of being a digger man when he grows up. It was fun to point out the different machines in the illustrations of construction sites.

Monster Trucks by Anika Denise, illustrated by Nate Wragg. This is a re-read for us, but it's been a favorite the past few weeks. This one will be reviewed in my Halloween spotlight post!

Hedgehog's Halloween by Benn Sutton and Dan Pinto. Cute book about Hedgehug's trouble finding the perfect costume. This book will be reviewed in more detail on my Halloween spotlight post!

Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna. We always look forward to Pout-Pout Fish books, but this one was a bit disappointing. The story was very short, and Pout-Pout was a minor character, so there wasn't too much recognition for younger kids. Kids who have loved all of Pout-Pout's books might like the inside jokes of finding hints of Pout-Pout in the pages, but there's not enough to really carry the story.

Going Places. This book actually came from a Wendy's happy meal...go ahead, judge away! Sometimes you can't deny the call of fast food on a Saturday night. The book is actually really cute, since my son is into cars right now, and this is really simple but nice.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Podcast - Episode 22

It's October, so it's basically Halloween, right? I fondly reminisce about the Scary Stories books by Alvin Schwartz, then book talk a few horror books I'm challenging myself to read this month. Do you read horror? What books scare you?

Listen to the podcast on iTunes or PodBean.

Books discussed on this week’s podcast include:
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Lending Zoo by Frank Asch

This review originally appeared on RaisingMom.ca's awesome blog! Be warned - once
you click that link, you'll spend the rest of your day checking out her excellent reviews.

- - -

ABOUT THE BOOK The Lending Zoo

Author: Frank Asch
Published by: Aladdin
Released: April 2016
Ages: 4-8 years

From the Publisher: Miss Perkins is happy to be the librarian at The Lending Zoo, a ‘zoo-brary’ that lends out all types of animals—from massive elephants to majestic giraffes. Everything usually goes smoothly: water buffaloes, snakes, parrots, and more are checked out and returned without a problem. But one sunny day Pancake, the tiger, goes missing and Miss Perkins along with her new friend Molly must go on a citywide search to find him! Will they be able to track him down before he causes a commotion all over town?”

Description: The idea of a Lending Zoo is so creative that the story pulls you in with the first page, where we meet Miss Perkins, the “zoo-brarian”. The action starts quickly when you find out that the tiger is missing! Molly, a little girl who was waiting to check out an animal, asks to tag along on the search for the missing animal. Miss Perkins and Molly travel all over, wondering if they’ll find the missing tiger. To add to the suspense, there is the question of what animal Molly was at the Lending Zoo to check out!
Though it came out earlier this year, this book already seems like a classic – the illustrations look timeless, with quirky modern elements like Miss Perkins’ scooter.

My Experience: I read this aloud to my son and we both enjoyed the story! The illustrations are bright and cheery, and it’s fun to travel along on the scavenger hunt with Miss Perkins and Molly. We liked taking in the detailed illustrations on every page, because so much is happening – you can see what animals patrons are checking out, read the names of the animals on their shelves, and see what each person is doing as Miss Perkins and Molly pass by. It might sound like a “seek and find” book since the tiger is missing, but the point of the search isn’t to find the tiger on the page yourself – instead, take in the people in each scene, see what they’re doing. There are so many opportunities to talk with your kid as you read this book, and doing so only adds to the story because the elements are featured so prominently in the illustrations.

·      The overall concept of the book! How cool is a Lending Zoo?
·      The detailed illustrations, where there are no faceless blobs for crowd scenes, but instead developed people doing different activities
·      The lack of a definite ending. Though the story is resolved, the action continues on in the Lending Zoo, showing that this was just one thing that happens in a day.
·      None!

How to Use it with kids: The concept of a Lending Zoo is one kids will love, so this book opens the floor for a lot of conversation.
  •  Ask kids what animals (real or imaginary!) they would check out of the Lending Zoo. What does this animal eat? What does it look like? Have them draw pictures of the animal.
  • Have kids identify the animals on each page.
  • Read-alikes featuring the zoo: Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann or Put Me In the Zoo by Robert Lopshire.
  •  Read-alikes featuring unique pets: Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo by William Joyce or Hiding Phil by Eric Barclay.

About the Author / Illustrator:
Frank Asch’s first book was published in 1968. Since then, he has written over 60 books, most famously the Moonbear picture books.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What We Read This Week 10/9

All library books this week! My library card is the only card I've ever maxed out
- but thank goodness my son has one, too! We have a great selection, and I keep 
bringing home a couple of books a day. You can't beat the proud, happy feeling
after telling your son you brought him something, and he says "Bi-berry books?!"

I Love Going Through This Book by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Different parts of the book are explained, and then the characters go through the story, climbing up and crawling over pages. The book tells a cute story, but the way it's presented is really innovative.

Lawn to Lawn by Dan Yaccarino. Yes, we're still on our Dan Yaccarino kick! Lawn ornaments are left behind during a move, so they start the long trek to find their family's new house. Super cute illustrations - I could see this as a short cartoon!

Up Above and Down Below by Sue Redding. This book uses simple sentences to explain what's going on above and below different locations, like the street above and the subway below. It's fun to look at all of the details in the illustrations, plus there's a little red ant and tiny green caterpillar hidden in each spread!

Yoo-Hoo, Ladybug! by Mem Fox. This was probably our stand-out favorite. This book is SO cute, I can't stand it. It was a library book, but we've got to get our own copy. It's kind of like Where's Waldo? for kids, but on a simpler scale. There are illustrations of a crowded shelf, or a staircase with toys strewn about, and the reader has to find the ladybug in each. There is a simple rhyme to say before finding the ladybug, and a "solution" with the ladybug zoomed in on the next page. My son and I both enjoyed this book immensely.

Poultrygeist by Mary Jane Auch. Funny story, maybe more for adults and older children because of the wordplay. Two loud roosters are annoying the other animals in the barn, but when a Poultrygeist appears, everyone is scared - and the roosters might just be scared straight!

Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by Kimberly and James Dean. We love the rhymes in Pete the Cat books, and this one was extra fun because of the counting. My son and I kept counting the cupcakes to see how many were missing before Pete and his friends gave the answer. It didn't hurt that the cupcakes were really whimsical - we spent a few minutes on the endpapers, picking "our" cupcakes!

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krause Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. This is a great book to introduce punctuation, as well as the importance of being true to yourself. The exclamation point wants to fit in with the periods, but when a question mark comes along, exclamation mark finds his true self inside. We had fun "finding" the exclamation mark in the middle of all the other punctuation on each page.

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers. My husband read this one to my son, but I read it before I brought it home from the library. A fish is swimming alone in his bowl, bored, but when new fish and decorations are added, he gets cranky! He has no personal space, and wants a change... Will he get what he wants, or does he even know what he truly wants?

Buddy and the Bunnies: In Don't Play With Your Food by Bob Shea. This is another favorite from the week. Bob Shea's illustrations are always amazing. We loved the crazy monster! This is another book that can involve counting, if you want to make it more interactive and have your kid practice numbers. We counted bunnies on the pages. The bunnies that the monster wanted to EAT! But they kept outwitting him...

We Are Growing by Laurie Keller and Mo Willems. Grass blades try to label themselves as the "____-iest" as they are growing. But what's that noise? Sounds like a lawnmower...