Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mitchell’s License

Mitchell’s License
By Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick Press, 2011

Mitchell’s dad issues him a “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License” and the fun begins!

Mitchell’s License is an original story featuring an endearing father-son relationship.  Three-year old Mitchell never ever EVER wanted to go to bed, until his dad issued him a “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License”.  Like any good driver, he checked out his vehicle, inspecting the tires (dad’s slippers) and engine (dad’s belly under his shirt).  Then he hopped onto the driver’s seat (dad’s shoulders) and sped through the house.  He turned to the left (pulling the left ear), to the right (pulling the right ear) and honked the horn (dad’s nose) when needed.  And sometimes he went too fast and Mitchell crashed his dad into the wall!  When Mitchell determined his vehicle needed gas he drove up to the gas station (cookie jar), but the car refused. Mitchell cried, “this is an emergency” and turned on his hazards (flash light), but to no avail.  The car dropped him into bed, where Mitchell happily dreamt of fueling up at his local cookie jar gas station!  The story is full of humor and imaginative action.

Check more reviews on Amazon.  Review originally published in San Francisco Book Review. 

Just Kidding

Just Kidding
Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Adam Gustavson
2006

Just Kidding captures the anguish young people endure when a ‘friend’ begins to bully them.

In this story it starts on the playground, choosing up sides, and some of the others call D.J. a loser.  They say they are joking, but it doesn’t feel funny to D.J. and he leaves the game.  He begins to see how his friend Vince often makes fun of him in front of the other kids and teases him beyond what’s comfortable.  Angry and hurt, he holes up in his tree house.  His father offers help, but D.J. is hurting too much. Eventually D.J. is willing to play catch with his father and soon he shares what’s been going on.  In this case, his father helps ‘train’ D.J. to stand up to his tormenter.  When D.J. witnesses another classmate being bullied on the bus, he diverts the bullying.

When the bullying continues, D.J. and his father asked for advice from his teacher, and she explains, “Vince has somehow learned that it’s okay to say and do hurtful things to people.”  D.J. follows her advice and eventually Vince just doesn’t want to hang around D.J. and D.J. finds other friends.

Author Trudy Ludwig has several books on bullying worth checking out, including “Better Than You”, “My Secret Bully” and a comprehensive manual for kids, “Confessions of a Former Bully”, which won numerous awards, including, Mom’s Choice Gold Award and “Teens Read Too” Gold Star Award for Excellence.

Read more reviews on Amazon

 

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village


Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll
The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village
by Sunny Seki
Tuttle Publishing, 2012

There’s magic in this story. While simply told, there’s something in it that stirs the heart and imagination.

Sunny Seki, originally from Japan, and an artist and story teller, gently tells the story of Yuko-Chan, a blind young girl. While many villagers feel sorry for her, she does not. She teases the village leaders who stop reciting scriptures when lights are blown out. ““Wow! You’re handicapped aren’t you,” she joked,” after she had continued reciting the scriptures, because she had memorized them.

As a female and someone with a disability, she was not allowed in school, but when the boys were left alone and made ‘noise’, she redirected them into producing harmony. Yuko-Chan heads out in a snow storm to deliver food and tumbles. She discovers the gourd, shaped like Daruma-san (Father of Zen Buddhism) up-righted itself. She came up with the idea that the villagers could make dolls that always stood upright and sell them to help them through a recent disaster where a volcano had ruined their crops. The dolls sold, and today people come from around the world to purchase them. The village’s success following the disaster started from a single idea from a blind girl.

The book includes text in both English and Japanese.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books, 2011

This book is perfect to quiet down rambunctious boys for sleep.

As the sun sets and the day comes to an end, the reader walks through what each piece of heavy equipment does at a construction site.  As the machinery “gets sleepy” and begins to slow down and yawns, each machine is quietly ‘tucked in’ for sleep.  Readers see big strong machinery snuggling up against soft dirt pillows.  Readers who dream of working on heavy equipment at construction sites will love it.

The subject, rhyme and kid-friendly illustrations has turned this book into a best-seller.

Read more reviews on Amazon

In This Book

In This Book
By Frani Marceau, illustrated by Joelle Jolivet
Chronicle Books, 2014

After hearing many good things about artist Joelle Jolivet, I looked up In This Book and discovered a concept book introducing the word “in”!   It contains 59 pages (much longer than America’s standard format of 32 pages) of big, beautiful colors.  Produced in an extra-large format, the book immerses a child in many large and small as well as common and unusual examples of “in”.

Familiar examples include, “I am in the nest, said the bird,” and “I am in the dark, said the child.”  An exciting—to a child—example includes, “I am in the hand, said the ladybug.” The book can gently open conservations with the child about things in their world including, “I am in the ground, said the seed,” and “I am in space, said the planet.”   A delightful book, rich with colors, new words, and concepts that stretch the imagination.

Young readers will enjoy the simple art of Joelle Jolivet, a best-selling illustrator who has exhibited all over the world.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Almost Astronauts, 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Almost Astronauts, 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
Tanya Lee Stone
Candlewick, 2009

Always attracted to books about successful women, I discovered a rich telling of 13 women with very different stories who fought to do what was natural to them, fly.  While these 13 women were unable—in the late 50’s/early 60’s—to break the barriers against women and were unable to join NASA’s space program, they were able to lay strategic groundwork that later allowed other women into NASA’s program.

We meet Jerrie Cobb, the woman who challenged the male-dominated space program, secretly taking the same tests the men took to get into the program.  She passed them, far surpassing the men.  But the world wasn’t ready for women as equals yet.

A compelling slice in time, the author weaves 13 stories in with stories of key supporters as well as key non-supporters. She helps readers understand the era, and includes insights learned from some of the original 13 women.  Using dozens of photos we see the women who logged thousands of flight hours, in a time when they endured blatant discrimination for even that.  An inspiring book, especially for young people aspiring to fly.  Adults will enjoy, too.

Almost Astronauts won both the Seibert Information Books Medal and the Amelia Bloomer Award.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Knuffle Bunny Free: an Unexpected Diversion

Knuffle Bunny Free: an Unexpected Diversion
by Mo Willems
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2010

Another hit by Mo Willems!  In this one the illustrations are intriguing.  The family takes a trip to Europe.  Mo, both the writer and artist, uses travel photos as backdrops for the illustrations.  Over each photo he placed his hand drawn characters.  Very clever.  He says the biggest challenge in doing that was getting permission to get behind the counter of the airport’s scanning equipment to get the photo he wanted.

Knuffle Bunny Free is a change of life story.  The young girl carries ‘Knuffle Bunny’, with whom she is inseparable, on the plane; but it is accidentally forgotten when they debark.  The girl is grief stricken.  Her family calls the airport, but the plane has left for China.  Her world collapses, she misses her bunny.  Life is not good.  But then one night she has a dream in which her bunny comforts boys and girls all over the world and she wakes up feeling peaceful.  She is fine.  The family takes their seats on their flight home and, to her surprise, her Knuffle Bunny is tucked in the seat pocket.  Her parents are relieved, but the girl no longer needs bunny.  A squalling baby behind her, she turns to the mother and offers her bunny for the toddler.  The mother, and all the passengers, are grateful.  Her parents are shocked!  A very clear and simple moment in which one child out grows her need for a bunny.

Read more reviews on Amazon

When the World Is Ready for Bed

When the World Is Ready for Bed
By Gillian Shields, illustrated by Anna Currey
Bloomsbury, 2009

This book/board book is a quiet, rhyming bedtime story.  We follow a family of three young bunnies as they come in from play.  They eat supper, clean up their toys and talk together with their mother about their day.  They wash their teeth and prepare for bed, listen to a story, and say their prayers. They gaze out the window at the shining star that will guard them through the night and go to bed to sleep.  They are left to dream and look forward to the next day.  Illustrated in lovely watercolors this charming tale will send a child gently off to dreamland.

Read more reviews on Amazon

Imogene’s Last Stand

Imogene’s Last Stand
By Candace Fleming, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009
Amelia Bloomer Award

Join in the passion and relentless tactics of strong-headed history buff Imogine as she uncovers a bit of history that “will put her small town on the map.”

History lover Imogene fights to keep open a centuries-old historical society scheduled for demolition.  But “the new shoelace factory will put Liddleville on the map,” the townspeople say, and nobody pays attention to her.  “I won’t let it happen!” she declares.  “In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, “I have not yet begun to fight!’”  And so begins her appeal.

After several historical, patriotic grandstanding attempts to create interest in saving the site, she discovers a significant historical document.  She has only one day to save the building, and puts a scheme into place. She locks herself in a neck yoke on the building’s front porch to protest the destruction, and buy some time.

Bulldozers and TV reporters arrive; the townspeople gather to see what will happen.  When her dad arrives, the mayor demands he do something about the girl, and her father locks himself into another rack and sits with his daughter.  Midafternoon the President of the United States (a woman, of course) arrives and declares it an historical site.  Imogene succeeded in putting her town on the map!

Imogene’s parting words, “”That was totally fun!

A delicious story for strong, developing girls.

Read more reviews on Amazon

A Book

A Book
By Mordical Gerstein
Roaring Brook Press, 2009
Amelia Bloomer Award

The story begins with wondering what it would be like to live in a book; a fascinating concept for a young child.

Over breakfast, we meet the family members who live in the book and discover their story; but the youngest, a little girl, does not have a story.  Mother Goose appears and points out that everything the little girl says is seen by “the reader”.  Spotting the “huge…blobby thing” looking at her, embarrasses the little girl and she hides behind the goose.  The goose takes her through her land of folk and fairy tales, where the reader can enjoy identifying each story.  Her dog, with a detective, tries to help; her fish, who has joined a band of pirates, tries to help; and her brother, now an astronaut, makes suggestions, but these stories are not the little girl’s story.  At dinner she knows what her story is and announces it to her family.  They all cheer for her.  After dinner, she writes her story. The book ends with the little girl lying in bed asking the reader to please close the book so she can sleep.

Imagining what it would be like to live in a book woven together with the young child searching for her story makes this a compelling story for young readers.

Read more reviews on Amazon