Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, A Story about Knitting and Love

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, A Story about Knitting and Love
 

by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016

An endearing story, masterfully told.  A good read for a cold day snuggle under the blankets

Sophia and Mrs. Goldman make knitted hats.  Sophia, who tried to learn how to knit last year, makes pom-poms for the hats Mrs. Goldman knits.   Ever generous, Mrs. Goldman gives away the hats off her own head to keep others warm.  Sophia worries Mrs. Goldman will get sick.  At last she decides to knit her a hat.  She works on it night and day and when it is done it is bumpy and lumpy and holey!  She can’t give it to Mrs. Goldman, it looks like a monster and will scare Mrs. Goldman’s dog.  She thinks and thinks until at last her heart grows bigger and lighter, like a balloon.  She knows exactly what to do to complete the hat for Mrs. Goldman.

Illustrator G. Brian Karas captures the struggles Sophia experiences and how she works though them to show her love to Mrs. Goldman.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Samanthasaurus Rex

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Samanthasaurus Rex

by B. B. Mandell, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Balzer & Bray, 2016

A family of T-Rex’s, what could be better for a five year old?  Samanthasaurus is a gentle soul who likes to paint, design and talk and her family doesn’t really understand her.  They tell her she needs to be strong, a leader and make noise, but Samanthasaurus is comfortable in her own skin.  Her family go on a hike and Samanthasaurus weaves vines into rope, discovers a shiny diamond and explores how to ‘harness’ energy.  As her family climbs the mountain, she figures out the mountain is a volcano and her family is in danger.  She uses the items she found to save her family and her family sees her in a new way. This story blends the ancient with new, modern concepts (harnessing energy!) while encouraging young readers to be who they are, for that is where they will find their true strength.

While the story is filled with dangers, illustrator Suzanne Kaufman expertly paints the dinosaurs in pastels and keeps smiles on everyone’s faces to keep the story light-hearted.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

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Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

by Lisa Papp
Peachtree, 2016

Madeline Finn does not like to read and is humiliated in school when the teacher encourages her, but she can never get a star for reading, only ‘keep trying’ hearts.  She enters the reading to dog program and meets Bonnie, a big white dog.  Madeline learns Bonnie is a great listener.  Reading is still difficult, but Bonnie continues to look at Madeline with love no matter how many mistakes Madeline makes. Madeline learns how to be patient with herself, just like Bonnie is patient.  When Madeline goes in front of the class to read, she messes up and when someone giggles, she’s tempted to stop, but she thinks about Bonnie and pretends she is reading to her.  Before she knows it, Madeline completes the page and earns a star!

A beautiful story, rendered in pencil, watercolor and digital coloring, author/illustrator captures Madeline’s many emotions.  Readers will find it easy to relate to Madeline as she struggles with reading.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

This is NOT a Cat!

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This is NOT a Cat!

by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Sterling Children’s Books, 2016

As a mouse teacher instructs her mice student on what a cat looks like, a cat enters the classroom.  Frightened, teacher and students all scream “A Cat!” and run.  As they leave the building, the reader sees the ‘cat’ is only a costume.  Inside the costume is a rat.  Smugly the rat leaves the building to come face to face with a real cat! Using minimal words and color-filled pages of action, readers can enjoy the humor of all the twists and turns in the story.

If you like humor, you may enjoy other books by David LaRochelle.  Check out 1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions, a silly book on addition.   If you have a budding actor, introduce them to Moo!  Using only one word throughout the story, the story is told through voice inflections.  Toddlers love this story when they quickly learn to read ‘moo’ and practice their expressive verbal skills.  This book sometimes finds its way in junior and high school drama classes, too!

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Nanette’s Baguette

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Nanette’s Baguette

by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children, 2016

Mo Willems has done it again with this delightful, must-read-aloud book.  The title hints that rhyming may be involved and it is absolutely true.  Mo finds more than twenty words that rhyme with Nanette and Baguette—he must have made the story around all the rhyming words!

Nanette’s mom asks her to go to the bakery and buy a baguette—it’s the first time Nanette has been trusted with such an important task.  Along the way, she meets her friends—will she forget the baguette?  No, she perseveres.  She buys the warm, wonderful smelling baguette which lures her into taking a small, small nibble.  Before she knows it, Nanette has no baguette!  Her life gets miserable for failing on such a responsibility.  With deep dread, she goes home and tells her mom.  Mom and Nanette return to the bakery for a very surprising ending!

Read more reviews on Amazon.

10 Little Ninjas

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10 Little Ninjas

by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Nate Wragg
Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

A counting book, a playful rhyme, a new imaginative scene on every page, a few new words introduced, bright colors, parents who love their children and fun on every page—a recipe for a perfectly fun read!

Ten children sneak out of bed for a little fun.  First they pretend they are ninjas, then they take a trip in outer space as astronauts, then they race around the track and one by one the children begin to return to bed—sort of.  Action lives on every page until all the children are finally in bed and asleep.  With 10 lively imaginations, every reader is bound to find their favorite dream in the book.

Illustrator Nate Wragg dramatized Miranda Paul’s perfectly rhymed story into a perfect read aloud.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Pablo Finds a Treasure

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Pablo Finds a Treasure

by Andree Poulin, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Annick Press, 2016

A poignant story about Pablo and his sister Sofia who survive by going to the garbage dump every day to salvage recyclable waste.  A glimpse into a life most of us do now know, but plenty of children across the world do.

Bickering, like most brother and sisters do, Pablo and Sofia scurry off to treasure mountain.  The truck is coming!  Sofia rushes to the front.  Sofia finds a blue boot.  When Pablo says it’s too big, she says, “That’s good.  You can wear it longer.”  They cull through the garbage looking for scraps of paper and plastic their mother can sell for recycling.  If they get enough, maybe their mama can buy half a chicken for dinner.  Pablo finds a book and yearns to read, but practical Sofia scoffs, “Reading won’t fill your stomach!”

Pablo finds a gold chain.  Maybe he can get a book.  Soon Filthy-Face arrives and all the children flee like wild rabbits.  Sofia gets away, but Filthy-Face snatches Pablo’s things.  Sofia is angry he did not give the chain to her and now it is gone, but is it?

A refreshing look into the lives of the very poor and how they find their own joy and happiness.  Ideal for discussions.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

The Monster Next Door

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The Monster Next Door

By David Soman
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016

A boy builds a tree house in a great field and a monster builds a tree house nearby.  They play well together until the monster’s tuba playing is louder than the boys flute playing.  When the boy asks him to stop, the monster continues to play.  They call each other names, have a water balloon fight and become enemies.  The boy writes a note, “Not Friends” and goes to the monster’s house to deliver it, when he notices things.  You’ll have to read the story to find out what he learns and how the two become friends again.

Watercolor, charcoal and colored pencils offer spacious drawings, allowing plenty of space in which to dream.  The music is expressed with splashes of color that fill the page and excite the eyes.

Read more reviews on Amazon.

Top 10 Picture Books of 2016

I easily read more than 1,000 picture books a year to find the very best which I share with you.  The one’s that make this list are those, that at year’s end, I’ve verbally promoted to dozens of people, that I purchased, or that still bring a smile or make my heart skip a beat when I just look at the title.  These are the ones that have stuck with me.  Looking over the titles, I see some are chosen because of the story’s words, some are chosen because story’s art.  Either way, they are my favorites.

Click on the title to read the review.

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How to Cheer Up Dad                     Little Night Cat                    Ella and Penguin Stick Together

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Edgar’s Second Word             Henry wants more!                        Chimpanzees for Tea!

chef2piratenorthstarMountain Chef                     Pirate’s Perfect Pet                     One North Star, A Counting Book

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The Best Bear in All the World,
A new collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories

Read more reviews on Amazon.