Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Unique Friendships - August #kidlitpicks

Another month of excellent #kidlitpicks/@kidlitpicks recommendations are done, and Summer at Reading Is Our Thing compiled a list of the books that were shared. Head over to her blog to check them out!

The September theme for #kidlitpicks is Change:
A lot changes in September. I mean, as the ancient Greeks will tell you, change is the only constant…but there’s something about September that sparks a bit of reflection—on the tilt of the Earth, the passing of the year, the meanderings of the path of life.
Share your favorite books about change and tag #kidlitpicks to be featured!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What We Read This Week 8/28

I couldn't help myself this week: I brought home books from the library pretty much every day... I'm SO thankful I don't work at a bookstore - we'd be broke!

Spare Parts by Rebecca Emberley. My son is crazy about robots right now, so I had to bring this one home for him. It's a cute book about Rhoobart, a robot made of secondhand parts, who needs a new heart. He looks everywhere, asks for help from everyone, but can't get a new heart. The illustrations might be a bit creepy if you have a young or sensitive child, because Rhoobart isn't a polished cartoon robot - he looks like he's put together from scraps. My 2 year old and I loved it, though, so I hope you will too!

Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka. Along with robots, my son is all about cars and trucks and machines, so I knew I had to check out this book. Also... Jon Scieszka is my major author crush - have you met him?! He's SO charming and great with kids and quick and witty... wow. My family (including my son, who was only 2 months old!) met him when the first Frank Einstein came out, and it was a childhood dream come true. We've read (and re-read!) all of his books, but I hadn't read anything about Trucktown. It was fun to read for the first time with my son because there's so much to explore - the story is fairly simple, but fun, and there's a lot to look at and talk about in the illustrations and the end papers. Definitely want to read more from Trucktown!

Tea Rex by Molly Idle. I fell in love with the title and the concept because it reminded me of my friend's wacky, silly ideas. Because I already had her sense of humor in mind, the book fell a little flat for me - it was very straight-forward in the story of inviting a T-Rex for tea, and I think there was room for a lot more silliness. Overall a cute book.

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer. Sweet book about a girl who checks out a forgotten book, accidentally returns it, and forgets about it again. The pictures are beautiful but seem more aimed at adults than the kids hearing the story, but the story is interesting and my son seemed to be listening the whole time (but he is a budding book nerd, so...).

Hiding Phil by Eric Barclay. This is one we first read two years ago, when my babe was actually a baby! We just re-read it this week and he's asked for it several times since. It's a very short book about kids finding an elephant and wanting to keep him as a friend, so they try to hide him - but hiding an elephant is hard. A lot of great opportunities to talk to your kid while you read this one and get them involved in the story.

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex. We already liked Adam Rex because the movie Home is based on his book The True Meaning of Smekday, and we are completely in love with School's First Day of School. This is a book of silly monster and (sometimes) food poems that took us a couple of nights to read (due to attention problems), but was constantly asked for! My son would point and say "Monster one!" even after we had read our nightly two books. It was really funny to me, too, so I can't wait to read more of Adam Rex's poems and books.

Construction by Sally Sutton. Along with robots and cars and trucks, my son loves construction sites and machinery. This short board book was a major hit - he carried it around the library proudly until he checked it out, and we've read it every night since. 

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Dan Santat is probably one of our favorite illustrators,  and he really made this book come alive. The pigs were silly and the illustrations were gorgeous, so it was a fun book to read aloud.

Piggies in Pajamas by Michelle Meadows. My son loved the rhymes in this book, and the idea of pigs creeping around when they should be in bed, but narrowly escaping their mom each time. I hope he didn't get any ideas...  Shh! Was that a creak in the hallway?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What We Read This Week 8/21

Working in a library, I bring home new (to us) books pretty much every day. Even so, some books just don't hit the spot at home like you think they will when you're browsing at the library. Sometimes you just have to go back to your favorites, the books with worn spines that you've read time and time again.

That was this week for us.

Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin. We got this book from the library over a year ago, and we both loved it so much I added it to our wishlist. We bought it recently with some Barnes and Noble ebook settlement credit (I still don't understand the whole thing, but I'll take it!) and have read it countless times since it arrived on our doorstep! My son calls every color "bah-loo" or "yallow" or "orange" - yeah, he can say orange perfectly, go figure! But anyway, I thought it would be a fun book to help him work on his colors, so I ask questions about the monsters and give him a chance to name the colors before the monster can. Don't get me wrong, though - we DO just read it for fun a lot! It's a super silly fun book about monsters dancing and wiggling as they play with colors. It's so bright and creative that you won't mind reading it aloud every night!

Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew gave this book to my son for his first Christmas, which means I literally can't count how many times we've read it. We read it a lot before he was really speaking because he loved animal noises, and could do them really well. Once he figured out how to lift the flaps, it was over! He asks for this book almost every night by saying "Cow one!" It's a good book to quiz your kid about animals - names and noises - just like Monsters Love Colors is good to help learn the colors. It's also just a fun book to read aloud, because you get to make animal noises with your kid!

Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk. This is actually my copy of the book from when I was younger, but I didn't really remember the story too well. My son has been asking for it a lot lately, calling it "the yallow one" (because of the spine color) or "bird-day party!" (because of the tea party), and I don't mind reading it aloud often at all, because the rhymes are great, and it's a cute story, and my son loves pointing out the different bugs. 

Thomas and Friends Rolling Wheels. My son loves trains and Thomas, so when I saw this book at Target I had to grab it. It was his first "interactive" book, where he can press the buttons to play a sound clip at certain points in the story. I didn't initially realize that you also rolled the wheels along with parts of the story, so that's become my son's favorite thing to do. Who doesn't love being involved in the story?! The book is pretty short, and it's definitely aimed at fans of Thomas because it's not really a standalone book, it's pretty much just merchandise. That being said, it's not bad to read night after night because it's so short, and though there are only three buttons, there are nine sounds total so you don't hear the same thing over and over and over.

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld. We have the interactive version of this book because my son loved the previously mentioned Thomas book so much. He loves construction sites and machines, so I thought the sounds would add a lot to the story for him. He really loves being able to push the buttons at the right parts in the story, and will carefully check out the icon on the page and match it up with the buttons on the right side, catching himself with a soft "nope" if his finger is hovering over the wrong button. He asks for it pretty much every night, and I have to say I get a little tired of reading it, just because it's a longer story, and sometimes my son isn't the quickest with pressing the right button, so the story drags on a big longer. It's a fun book, though, and I think the sounds add a lot to a story like this.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What We Read This Week 8/7

My graduate school days are dwindling away, and though I've recently started a new job, I'm excited by the idea of having *free time* on my hands for the first time in what seems like forever! No school? Seems like a luxury! So I wanted to introduce a new feature that I think will help me keep this blog active, since I got into a reviewing slump and was only posting podcast recaps for quite some time.

What We Read This Week is a weekly round-up of all the books my son read - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm going to write micro-reviews of the books we shared, and include all of our reactions in order to give a well-rounded idea of if you and your kids would like these books.

Here we go!

Ollie Forgot by Tedd Arnold. This book was fun to read aloud because of the repetition of the (few!) things Ollie remembered. My son LOVES repetition, so I actually repeated the lines a few more times than they were written, and the story didn't suffer for it. There's room for a lot of embellishment and interaction in this cute story about Ollie running an errand for his mother, and everyone he encounters along the way. We all enjoyed this book, and it will definitely be re-read.

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks. This story of a brother and sister learning to share is told more in bright, inviting illustrations than words. It's a great interactive book because you can talk about the illustrations and have your little one chime in with what's going on. My son picked this one as his favorite book of the week when I asked, but he might be a little biased - he loves piggies!

Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti by Anna Grossnickle Hines. Daddy read this one aloud, of course, because the daddy is the star of the show! It's a sweet story about a little boy running errands and helping Daddy around the house while Mommy works. It's a playful book so it's fun to read, but it also goes over routines done throughout the day and enforces that idea to the reader.

The Raven and the Loon by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, illustrated by Kim Smith. This book is beautiful - the cover and illustrations are so gorgeous I had to bring it home when I saw it on the library shelf. This is one of those books that might be more for adults though - it's gorgeous, but I don't think kids would be sucked into the illustrations too much. The book is an origin story of how the raven and the loon came to look as they do, so it's better suited for older kids who can ask and understand "why", as well as appreciate the folklore aspect.

Fix This Mess by Tedd Arnold. Another favorite of the week - a cute story about a messy house and a pup who's too lazy to clean it himself. The puppy sends away for Robug, a cleaning robot machine. Except Robug doesn't so much CLEAN the mess as relocate it... will the house ever get cleaned? My son loves robots, so he loved Robug and keeps asking for it to be read again and again. This is a library book, but we might have to get our own copy since it's such a hit.

Call Me Ahnighito by Pam Conrad, pictures by Richard Egielski. My son is way too young for this book. He picked it off the library shelf himself, but he wasn't too interested in listening to it. The illustrations are very realistic and dark-colored, as well, so it wasn't too engaging. The story is pretty long; it's based on a true story of a meteorite that fell to earth, so it'd be better suited for older kids interested in rocks, space, and science.

Infinity and Me written by Kate Gosford, illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska. This is another book that might be more for parents than children. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is very well done, but I think it would be over most kids' heads. Even when kids start to wonder how big the sky is, how many stars there are, and what infinity is, the book doesn't really answer the question too clearly. It's fine to wonder about things and have your question lead to other questions, but when it's trying to tie in a new pair of red shoes, it just doesn't really work for me. This might be better for older children, though I can't see those at the appropriate age wanting to read a picture book...

Monday, August 1, 2016

School's First Day of School

Today was my son's first day of preschool, so this seemed like the perfect book to feature! I originally saw it posted on @chickadee.lit's Instagram and her review made me realize I had to read it. Our library doesn't have it in the system, so I ordered it right away, and we've been reading it all last week to get my son geared up for preschool.

This book is written by Adam Rex, who has a great sense of humor as evidenced in his other books: Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, Frankenstein Takes the Cake, and The True Meaning of Smekday, which was adapted into the movie Home. It's illustrated by Christian Robinson, of Last Stop on Market Street fame. I'm thinking these guys are the new dream team, because so far this book is my stand-out favorite picture book of the year.

Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand new school, built from the ground up, and he gets used to just having the janitor around keeping him clean. The janitor tells the school that soon he'll be full of children, and school gets very nervous. The school has to learn everyone's names, and how to act, and  how to make friends... Can he do it, or will he be too scared?!

School's First Day of School is a must-read for kids starting school, whether it's for the first time, or for a new year. Kids will be able to identify with how the school is feeling, and they'll feel understood. Parents will love reading it too - I laughed out loud several times because it's so witty.