Tag Archives: boys

The Blue Whale












The Blue Whale
by Jenni Desmond
Enchanted Lion Books, 2015

This is a perfect ‘boys’ book that, with a kid-voice of awe and excitement, introduces the greatest mammal on earth, the blue whale.  Readers learn a whale’s heart is the size of a small car, about 1,300 pounds and its tongue is three tons!  They learn 50 people could fit inside a whale’s mouth.  While a whale eats 35 million krill a day, its throat is only as wide as a grapefruit.  The illustrations cleverly show all the whale details throughout the story and features ‘whales’ wherever possible, like the kitchen table is shaped like a whale.  They even get a geography lesson thrown in.  Targeted for the 4-7 year old, they will have fun reading it over and over to learn about the gigantic whale.

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You Look Yummy! (The Best Picture Book for Boys I’ve seen all year!)

YummyYou Look Yummy!
By Tatsuya Miyanishi
Museyon, 2015
Originally published in Japan

You Look Yummy! Is an utterly endearing story that touched my heart; and I can see why it’s an international best seller.  It’s the best picture book for boys I’ve seen all year.

A baby Ankylosaurus hatches open, but no parents are available.  When he sees an adult Tyrannosaurus, he runs up and grabs onto the leg of the Tyrannosaurus and calls out, “Daddy! I was really lonely.  I was scared.”  Startled, and touched by the youngster’s innocence, the Tyrannosaurus, who had planned to eat the youngster, doesn’t have the heart to hurt him.  In fact, he defends the youngster when a hungry Chilantaisaurus approaches to eat it.

The next morning Tyrannosaurus is worried when he can’t find the baby.  Eventually, the baby returns carrying some berries he had picked for his daddy.  Tyrannosaurus was so angry, he scolded the little one.  The Baby apologizes, saying, “I thought you would be happy…”  Tyrannosaurus enjoys teaching the little one how to be a tyrannosaurus until he realizes he’s doing the wrong thing.  When he sees the baby’s parents, he tricks the baby into going in their direction, as he runs the opposite direction.  Once Tyrannosaurus is sure the baby understands he has found his correct parents, he says goodbye and leaves.

Even though the Tyrannosaurus is not the real father, readers will enjoy the power the little one has over the adult, who protects and nurtures him.  Bright yellows, oranges and greens emphasize the starkness of the foreign land of dinosaurs and hold the attention of the young reader/listener.

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A Horse Called Hero

A Horse Called Hero

Sam Angus
Feiwel and Friends, 2013

Wonderful story about a boy and his horse, set in the turmoil of World War II in England.

Eight-year old Wolfie and his older sister Dodo live in London with a caretaker while their father is serving in the military.  As bombing escalates, children are evacuated and sent to live with families in the country.  They are stuck with a caretaker that doesn’t want them. Wolfie discovers an abandoned newborn colt.  Neighbors say it won’t survive and decide to kill it, but Boy claims it as his.  His medal-winning father returns to England, but he has been charged with desertion and remains in jail.  The locals want nothing to do with kids of a deserter; they are returned, but their teacher takes them in.

The horse is magnificent and keeps the family focused during numerous hardships including thievery, floods, and mining battles, all of which they have no control. For five years, the father and children write each other regularly.  While not a true story, it includes real events that occurred during World War II and keeps readers engaged with several life-and-death situations.

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by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Henry Holt and Company, 2004
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12

Illustrator Gabi Swiatkowska and writer Lola M Schaefer bring alive a true story about a hawk that was wounded by and lived with an arrow running through its body for several months.

When Hawk takes an arrow in his side, he learns he can fly and gets him to the top of a Red Oak tree where he can rest.  He cares for his wound as best he can.  But after two days he is hungry and set off to find what he can.  He learns to negotiate with the arrow and goes after easier food to catch.  One day Hawks gets the arrow tangled in tree branches and snaps off part of the arrow.  Life is a bit easier.  One day he spots a field of mice, easy prey, and when he drops down to feast, his claws become entangled in a netting.  Rescuers remove the arrow and care for Hawk until he is fully healed.  They return him to his home and release him.

An afterword shares details of the Hawk’s story.  Geared more for the reader 6-11 years old.

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Hungry Coyote

61NriCj2FOL._SL250_Hungry Coyote
by Cheryl Blackford, illustrated by Laurie Caple
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015

Hungry Coyote addresses the trend of coyotes living in or near urban areas.

On its cover, a coyote stares you in the face, and you want to open the book to see what is inside.  Written in a rich, poetic voice that speaks of survival and illustrated with winter’s freezing details, you enter a winter land and sense the tough times wildlife has, in particular, the coyote.  But the coyote is smart and a survivor and uses its ability to adapt to its environment.  They’ve learned to live invisibly alongside human dwellers in urban areas.  The author includes information about City Coyotes and what to do if you encounter one.  Highly recommended book.

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Backhoe Joe

Backhoe Joe
By Lori Alexander, illustrated by Craig Cameron
HarperCollins, 2014

In Backhoe Joe, Nolan finds a ‘stray’ backhoe and takes him home to be his new pet.  His parents are a bit skeptical.  Nolan tries to show he can train his pet to “Come!”, “Stay!”, and “Leave it!”  But Backhoe Joe has a lot of energy and humorously makes messes—just like a real pet!  Finally Nolan finds a way to teach Joe commands.  Then Nolan sees a sign saying Joe is lost and if found, to call for a reward.  Nolan struggles with wanting to keep the backhoe as a pet and knowing he should return it to its owners.  He chooses to do the right thing.  His reward is visiting Joe at his real worksite.  And there’s a delightful twist at the end when Nolan gets his next pet.

Backhoe Joe is a perfect, heartfelt book for boys and girls who like trucks and construction things.  The illustrations are friendly and give Backhoe Joe a personality that complements Nolan’s.  The combined story and illustrations have the potential to become a classic.  A fun book about a different kind of “pet”!

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Mikis and the Donkey

Mikis and the Donkey 
by Bibi Dumon Tak
Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2015
Mildred L. Batchelder Award

I could not put this book down, even when I should have been working!

Mikis’ grandfather buys a donkey to help carry wood down from the mountain for the winter.  Little Mikis soon befriends the donkey.  When grandfather ‘overworks’ and injures the donkey, Mikis goes directly to the doctor for help—on a Sunday!  By Monday everyone on the tiny Greek island knows about Mikis’ ‘unheard of’ actions.  He informs his grandfather that the doctor orders no work for the donkey for one week.  He is soon called the Donkey boy, because he loves the donkey.  Other subplots blended into the story results in an endearing book.

It recently won the American Library Association’s 2015 Mildred L. Batchelder Award.  The reason I read it, however, was I heard it was selling much faster than they expected and they were about to make a second printing.  As I suspected, fast-selling books are often the best, and this one is that. A perfect gift book, a perfect read.

The book is translated from the Netherlands.

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Catch that Cookie!

Catch that Cookie!
By Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small
Dial Books, 2014

Catch that Cookie! is a mystery and humor book rolled into one.  It opens with Marshall, who starts out a firm skeptic about the idea that gingerbread men (g-men) could run away, like the folk tale says.  But he joins in with his classmates to make and bake his own g-man.  When they gather around the oven to remove the cookies, they find an empty oven!  A note sends them looking; another note sends them looking again and again, until they all become stumped—except for Marshall.  Working the clues, he comes up with an idea of where the cookies could be, and leads everyone to the g-men!  Now Marshall is a firm believer that g-men can run away, and when he gets in the car, he orders his father to lock the doors to ensure his g-man gets home.

The award-winning artist, David Small, has created illustrations that jump across each page.  To an already good story, he adds mountains of humor, action, joy and fun.  It’s easy to follow the many emotions the children display as they discover the missing g-men and follow the clues.

Review originally published in San Francisco Book Review.

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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. 

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.

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