Category Archives: Ages 0-3

Bully

Bully
by Jennifer Sattler
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

This book does an amazing job of showing exactly what bullies get when they bully.

As each loveable, innocent creature comes by to enjoy the water lilies in the pond, Bully declares the lilies are his and sends them away.  Soon he is alone.  Enjoying the lilies all for himself, he makes a crown, eats them (getting a tummy ache) and sleeps on a new pile each night until there is only one lily left.  He declares it “Mine!” and sits on it.  About then, a little bee has an idea.  He shares his idea with all the creatures sent away.  They, too, want the lilies to return, and they return together to chase the bully away.

You’ll have to read the story to see exactly what the bully gets for being a bully.  A delightful read, simply told so even the very youngest readers will get the message and have fun laughing, too.

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Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
by Sean Taylor, Illustrated by Jean Jullien
Candlewick Press, 2015

This humorous mystery book keeps the pages turning!

Hoot Owl disguises himself in costumes to sneak up on his prey.  He is not deterred when the rabbit hops away from his carrot disguise.  He immediately locates his next victim and cleverly creates his next disguise.  But lo, his victims never end up in his tummy, until the last one!  This g rated ending provides a humorous, satisfying conclusion.

With creative descriptions, tension and repetitive phrases, young readers will want to read this clever story again and again.

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Hush Hush, Forest

Hush Hush, Forest
by Mary Casanova, woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

Award-winning author, Mary Casanova, brings readers another story that introduces young readers to nature. Hush Hush, Forest introduces late-fall moving into winter where animals prepare for the cold.  Rich with forest animals preparing for winter, parent and child can discuss the season’s changes and how animals adapt.  She also sprinkles in other changes, including lengthening shadows, hummingbirds that fly to warmer breezes, and the colorful Northern lights.  The woodcuts give the story a rustic, down-home ambiance to comfort tired souls. Written in a gentle lyrical voice, it is perfect for bedtime.

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Rock What Ya Got

Rock What Ya Got
by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Kerascoet
Little, Brown and Company

I’m usually not a huge fan of obvious “love” type books, but this one was fun!  It opens with, “Once upon a blank piece of paper, where anything could happen…” and wraps into a ‘fairy tale’ the anticipation of wonder.  Then we meet Viva, a girl an artist had sketched.  The artist is not happy with what she drew, so she attempts to change the drawing, but Viva keeps saying, “Rock what ya got and rock it a lot…..”.  The bouncy rhyme repeats itself, allowing readers to eventually ‘sing along’ with Viva.

With loose, color-splashy illustrations we watch Viva’s emotions of dislike and joy and we dance/sing at the turn of each page.  A book readers may want to dance and sing out loud!  Delightful to the heart.

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With Love, Grandma XOXO

With Love, Grandma XOXO
by Helen Foster James, illustrated by Petra Brown
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Between receiving letters from Grandma and the allure of attending Camp Grandma, this story hooked and reeled me in.

Grandma goes away on her own adventure, but sends notes to her grandson each week.  Each letter has a new greeting, from “Snickerdoodle,” to “Ahoy, Matey!” Each letter is filled with love and familiar phrases, such as “shwashbuckling adventures,” jokes and rhymes.  Tucked in here and there is education, like the meaning of “plein air”.  Each page is filled with activities Grandma will do when she returns.  Love flows on each page in both words and illustrations.  Because each greeting and each adventure are so unique, readers can’t wait to hear what comes next.  Perfect for the youngest readers-to-be.

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Perfect

Perfect
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Cathy Fisher
Graffeg, 2017
Originally published in Wales.

A tender story of a boy who finds he cannot love his baby sister when she arrives and his struggle to find his way to do so.

Another rich, moving story by Nicola Davies.  We learn about the boy through his love of swifts nested in the roof above his attic bedroom.  He’s a deep, caring boy.  He imagined  “racing and chasing, screaming with laughter and delight” with his baby sister when she came home, but, instead she lay quite still. Sad, he went outside, alone, and cried for his loss.  All summer long he couldn’t love his sister, no matter how hard he tried. He found solace in watching the swifts.

Then one day he found a baby swift on the ground. He picked it up and stretched out its wings and legs.  “Perhaps, I thought, it only needs a little help.”  He took it to his attic room and lifted it to the sky and it flew away.  He turned to his sister’s crib and thought, “Perhaps, … she only needs a little help.”  He picked her up, went outside to lay on the grass and told her of all his dreams of them together.

The illustrations show the emotions surrounding each scene: outside, inside, in his dreams.  In this dark time for the boy, blackness shrouds many pages of soft colors depicting his emotions.  Beautiful images.

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You’re Safe With Me

You’re Safe With Me 
by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Lantana Publishing, 2018

The positive messages and story are perfect for this bedtime book, but it was the cover’s detailed India-styled drawings that pulled me in. Each page is beautifully illustrated with rich colors and details.  I had to slow down and carefully study each one so I wouldn’t miss the nuances of their story.

The story itself takes place in an Indian forest at night. Night sounds for little ones are normal and the baby animals sleep through them.  But when a storm passes through, the new night sounds frighten the young animals. Mama Elephant walks through the forest, comforting each animal.  In a lyrical voice, she explains what each noise means.  For instance:

Swish-swish! The trees moved.  Ooh-Ooh! The wind moaned.  The little animals  woke up and whimpered.

“Don’t worry about the wind,” whispered Mama Elephant.  “He’s an old friend of the forest.  He brings us seeds from faraway lands.”

Mama Elephant reassures each animal of the thunder, lightning, the waters in the river and other sounds.  Her explanations cleverly introduce nature’s cycles and explain how each sound supports their forest.

The positive, lyrically-written story with its stunning illustrations make this a book that will reassure its readers.

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Can I Be Your Dog?

Can I Be Your Dog?
by Troy Cummings
Random House, 2018

ARFY, a mutt living in a box near Butternut Streets, sends a letter to each home/business on the street asking if he can be their dog. He cleverly targets each letter specifically to the family/business inside.  At the yellow house, he shares he is potty trained, has his own squeaky bone and is willing to work with them on their pet cat.  At the fire station, he offers to fetch boots and claims he knows his way around all the fire hydrants.  Desperate, he even tries the dump, but is told to get lost.

Then, one morning, he wakes up with a letter addressed to him!  Who could it be from?  A great surprise ending.

The story completely tugs at the reader’s heart, as ARFY tries so hard to find himself a home.

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Lucy and the String

Lucy and the String
by Vanessa Roeder
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018

Illustrated in black and white drawings, with generous splashes of red string woven in, we meet a curious and clever Lucy.  A seamstress, she sees a string on the ground and, of course, pulls it.  And pulls it until she finds Hank—with a bear’s bare bottom—at the end of it.  Hank’s not so happy.  Lucy tries to cheer him up and cover him up, but he’s not impressed.  After many attempts she finds something that Hank likes, but when she cuts the string, to cut him loose, something even worse happens.  Find out how this friendship story, with a lot of loose ends, is sewn up.

Lucy and the String is written in a playful, poetic voice.  The author/illustrator knows just how to keep the tension and mystery going through the entire drama.

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Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters

Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters 
by Rachel Kolar, illustrated by Roland Garrigue
Sleeping Bear Press

This brilliant collection of nursery rhymes for young Halloween readers will keep pages turning and laughter rolling.  In What Are Little Bats Made Of?, readers explore what little bats and little ghouls are made of.  Little imaginations will run wild in Mary Had a Little Ghost and run creepy in Zombie Miss Muffet.  But what happens in Sing a Song of Witches, when the blackbirds attack the witch?

Geared for the youngest readers, humor is woven in with the spooky, as in Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary:

Mary, Mary, tall and scary,
How does your graveyard grow?
With buried bones and carved gray stones
And little ghosts all in a row.

Illustrations are done in night darks and spooky purples to support the scary poem re-writes.  They often tell another story beyond the re-written one, as when the dog in Old Mother Hubbard hilariously runs away with arm and hand bones.

Those who love scary Halloweens will love Mother Ghost.

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