Monthly Archives: June 2016

Dewey Bob

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Dewey Bob

by Judy Schachner
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015

Author Judy Schachner moseys through Dewey Bob with rhymes, rhythms and delightful metaphors, like “…he scrubbed his catch until it was as clean as a bucketful of bleached bones.”  Most every time Bob speaks, he does so in rhymes.  It’s just a pleasure to read her story and savor her illustrations, with subtle humor peeking through on every page.

Dewey Bob, a young raccoon, sets out to find his own place.  As are most raccoons, he’s a collector; of buttons, fireflies and stuff.  Stuff to make things, stuff for art.  He finds himself a great place to live, but soon gets lonely.  Thinking he can just pick up friends, he places a few in his cart and takes them home. But he’s very sad when they all leave.  Except for one friend, Mudball.  Find out how Dewey Bob uses his natural talents to help Mudball and learns how to make a true friend. A rich story of friendships.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt

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When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt
by Molly Bang
The Blue Sky Press, 2015

A story for those who see the world differently and are sensitive to others who don’t.

Sophie loves her tree and when her teacher asks her to paint its picture, she is ever so excited to do so.  She visits the tree and studies its every feature.  The next day she paints the trunk of her tree gray, the color it is, but the color makes her sad.  That’s not how she feels about her tree.  She paints the trunk blue and she feels happy.  She paints the sky orange and makes her own color for the leaves.  One classmate declares she did it wrong—a tree isn’t blue, and the sky isn’t orange.  Sophie feels hurt.  The teacher asks Sophie to talk about her picture.  Sophie says the color blue makes her feel good and strong.  Her teacher agrees, the color makes her feel good and strong, too.  Each classmates looks at their classmate’s picture to find the special parts of each.   Feeling about her picture and her day, she affirms, “…she loves just being Sophie.”

An affirming book, reinforcing each child’s uniqueness and acceptance of others different from ourselves.

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The Night Gardener

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The Night Gardner

Terry and Eric Fan
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

The Night Gardener is a book of awe-inspiring, life-changing magic.  Set in the thirties, a young William wakes to a tree sculpture of an owl.  Awed by its beauty and wonder, he stares at it all day.  He goes to sleep with a sense of excitement and the next morning he awakens to a tree sculpture of a cat.  After several days of new sculptures, the people of Grimloch begin to feel joy enter their hearts.  When a dragon appears, they celebrate until late into the day.  Going home, William spots an unfamiliar person. As the gentleman enters the park, he turns and invites William in.  They create a park full of new creatures.  When Williams awakens in the park, a pair of sheers with his name on it are before him. William’s life is changed, and so are the lives of the people in Grimloch.

Graphite drawings detail the times and the tree sculptures. As tree sculptures are within the realm of possibilities, the story sheds a whole new light on night and trees.   A story of both eye and heart beauty.  A joy to savor.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Stories from Bug Garden

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Stories from Bug Garden
by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Gwen Millward
Candlewick Press, 2016

A fun reading story about bugs in a garden, told in poetry!  Delightful.  Creative.

The book opens with a poem about Lady Bug, who doesn’t like to be a lady who sips tea, when she really wants to run barefoot, make mud angels and whistle through a blade of grass.  We learn that Lightning Bug is good at follow-the-leader, but not so good at hide-and-seek. Each bug’s personality appears and, like any family, there are conflicts, catastrophes and just plain silly things that occur.

Illustrations in ink, watercolor, and pencil develop each character’s personality.  A delightful summer read.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Sidewalk Flowers

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Sidewalk Flowers

by Jon Arno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books, 2015

This wordless story tells a poignant story of a young girl who picks flowers growing from sidewalk cracks when on a walk with her father in the city.  While the father is distracted with his own thoughts, she plucks flowers from each and every nook and cranny where there happens to be a flower.  With an armful of flowers, she begins to gift animals and people small bouquets of flowers to bring joy and cheer to their day.  Lose pen and ink sketches and spots of bright colors highlight the girl and the flowers she gathers.  Its rich visual details illustrate many side stories a youngster can point out and talk about.

I usually don’t review wordless stories, but this one had a subtle fascination and several surprises that held my interest all the way through.  This book leaves a lot of room for the child to create their own stories.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

How to Cheer Up Dad

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How to Cheer Up Dad

Fred Koehler
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014

How to Cheer Up Dad is a laugh-out-loud book—for parents and kids alike!

Little Jumbo is close to his dad and senses Dad is having a bad day, as Little Jumbo walks out of the kitchen dressed in cereal boxes, leaving behind a pile of cereal splayed across the floor. Innocent of his contribution to dad’s mood, Little Jumbo claims that, “Dad forgot that [he] did not like wearing his brown overalls”, when he dashes into the street wearing only his birthday suit.  Trying to cheer up his dad, Little Jumbo starts with a hug.  After he reads his dad a bedtime story and tucks him in to sleep, he wonders ‘how much cheering up he’ll need tomorrow…’, as he dashes out the room in a cape and mask cut from a window curtain.

Author/illustrator Fred Koehler absolutely captures the emotions—and irony—of the dance between father and son. A must read for father and toddler son.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Duck’s Vacation

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Duck’s Vacation

By Gilad Soffer
Feiwel and Friends, 2015

Duck finally gets away to the beach for a perfect vacation.  When the reader turns the page, his ice cream cone flies out of his hand.  Hey! Each time the page turns, something interrupts his vacation.  Speaking to the reader, he demands that no more pages be turned—No matter what!  But, of course, the page is turned, and more calamity follows.  Cranky at the reader, more and more interruptions appear as the pages are turned.  Finally, sitting in a dark storm he figures it can’t get any worse—but of course it does!  When a rainbow appears, he asks to stay on that page forever.  But the next page turns brings a band of pirates!

A fun reading book that interacts with the reader where each page turn makes things worserer and worserer for the duck, until…  Well, you’ll have to read it to find out how the duck gets his way!

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Song for a Summer Night, A Lulluby

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Song for a Summer Night, A Lulluby
by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2015

Award-winning children’s poet, Robert Heidbreder writes a soothing, calming story poem, perfect for a nighttime read. This quiet poem is wrapped in Qin Leng’s beautifully-rendered illustrations of joyful children savoring the delights of a summer’s evening.

Written in gentle rhyme, Song for a Summer Night includes song-like repetitions of night sounds.  The ‘glint-glint’ of the fireflies, the pring-pring of bellflowers, and the ‘scratch scratch’ of baby skunks.  Children look out their windows at the night skies and then run into the meadow to feel, stare at, and listen to the night creatures and quiet.  When it’s time to go in:

They slip into beds,
Eyes shut sleep-tight.
They know singing dreams
Will ring round them all night.
shh-shh
glint-glint
pring pring
tra-la-la
snap-snap
tip-tap
hoo-hoo
click-click
purr-purr
scratch-scratch
pound-pound

The story suggests the soft strains of the night sounds carry the children through the next day’s play.

Qin Leng’s ink and brush and digitally painted fanciful scenes bring a quiet beauty and peace to each scene.

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Love is My Favorite Thing

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Love is My Favorite Thing

by Emma Chichester Clark
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015

Love is My Favorite Thing describes love from a dog’s point of view.  For, after all, isn’t love all the same?  Children will delight in all the love Plummie feels.

“When they say, ‘You are a very good girl, Plummie!’
Then, I feel loved all over.”

What child doesn’t feel ‘loved all over’ when he receives love from his parents.  Plummie receives love and feels loved, even when he collides with trouble and punishment scene after scene.  Brightly colored illustrations show plenty of action highlighting the story’s words, which ring true of the unconditional love all parents aspire to give.  A meaningful story for both child and parent.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.