Review: They Say Blue


They Say Blue

Author/Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018

Source: Public Library

In this new picture book by Jillian Tamaki, we get not only a new and unique way of exploring colors and their many variations, but also seasons.

The story begins on a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky. A young girl sitting on the beach notices the water is blue, too. At least for now. Jumping into the waves, she realizes the water is actually clear, which she can “toss… up into the air to make diamonds.” She begins to wonder about colors. She doesn’t need to crack the egg to know the yolk is orange and she knows her blood is red, even when she doesn’t see it.

As the yearly cycle moves on, the grass is golden and the sky changes to deep gray. It’s spring and rain is coming. It’s a sign of new things: a flower blooms, a tree grows its leaves. Summer means lots of activity, whether it be the insects that fly around the tree or children playing ball. Then fall arrives, and the tree loses its golden leaves. Winter comes – a time of white snows and dark, moody skies – and the tree rests.

As the book ends, we are brought once again to the sky. Only this time, it is not blue. As the girl and her mother watch out the window, they notice “the black crows that bob and chatter in the field outside.” The sky is no longer blue, but instead a sea of rich reds and oranges.

With its wonderfully poetic language and its vibrant colors, this book draws us in to nature’s cycles. We begin to think in specifics. They say the sky is blue, but that is not always the case. The grass and leaves are not always green. Each has many variations and Tamaki’s book helps open our eyes to these wonders.

Review: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates


We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

Author: Ryan T. Higgins

Publisher: Disney Hyperion, 2018

Source: Public Library

Penelope Rex is a young Tyrannosaurus Rex who is just about to start school. Her classmates are not other T. Rex youngsters. Nope, they are human children. And human children are delicious.

Penelope has a lot of trouble adjusting to school. She keeps swallowing (and having to spit back out) her classmates. The teacher is never very happy with Penelope when she snacks on her classmates and the classmates aren’t terribly happy with her either. It’s awfully hard for Penelope to make friends. She’s lonely at school. She just doesn’t know how to get the other children to like her; at least, not until Walter the Goldfish gives her a lesson in how to be a friend.

For fans of Ryan T. Higgins (Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce, Bruce’s Big Move, and BE QUIET), We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is another winner to add to your library. Despite her difficulties in making friends (and plenty of real human children can have this problem, too!), Penelope really is pretty cute and lovable. She just needs a little help learning to understand the other person’s point of view.






Review: The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His A B C’s (the Hard Way)

little red cat

Photo Source;


The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His A B C’s (the Hard Way)

Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell

Publisher: Little Brown and Company, 2017

Source: Public Library

Do you remember the game I Am Going on a Vacation? The first player starts, “I am going on a vacation and I am bringing an apple.” The second player then takes their turn and adds something to bring that starts with a ‘b’. “I am going on a vacation and I am bringing an apple and a banana.” You go back and forth, remembering all the items brought until you get through the alphabet. (When I worked in elementary school, I used to play a variation of this to remember all the students’ names when we all first met!) Anyway, the point is that The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His A B C’s (the Hard Way) begins in a similar way. The cat runs out his door and away from his home to be confronted by an alligator, who is then joined by a bear, and a chicken, and a dragon, and an egg. The animals continue on their adventure, meeting all kinds of obstacles: fire (from the dragon), ice, mountainous terrain, a long wait in the restroom line…

If you are tired of boring A B C books that just show pictures of alphabetically arranged items, this adventurous – and hilarious – book will be a refreshing change of pace. There are several ways you could use this book in an interactive reading style. You could simply check out the pictures and see what is going on. You could tell it like a story. Or you could use it like the I Am Going on a Vacation game and see how much you and your listener can remember. Any way you read this book, it will provide a wonderful new way to experience the A B C’s.



Review: Bizzy Mizz Lizzie

bizzy mizz lizzieReview:

Bizzy Mizz Lizzie

Author/Illustrator: David Shannon

Publisher: The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2017

Source: Public Library

Lizzie is a very busy little bee. She goes to school. She takes all kinds of extra lessons – music, acting, art, and dance. She’s involved in sports and scouts. Lizzie does everything.

Everything, that is, except relax. She has a reason for it. It is her goal to one day meet the Queen and prove she is the best little bee she can be.

Bizzy Mizz Lizzy is a darling little bee. Her story reminds us (parents, too!) that sometimes we are the best we can be when we take some time to do nothing. Yes, once in a while we don’t have to do everything. Or anything. We can relax. Our kids can sit home and entertain themselves. Without electronics. (I can hear some of you gasping now, but they can manage not to be plugged in for a little bit.)

The illustrations are pretty colorful. Readers familiar with David Shannon’s other books will be familiar with his style and know that his pictures are just as entertaining as the story.

Review: The Lost Picnic

the lost picnicReview:

The Lost Picnic

Author/Illustrator: b.b. cronin

Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2017

Source: Public Library

Grandad is taking his grandchildren for a picnic – isn’t that a nice idea for summer? – and he has strapped the basket full of goodies to the roof of his car. As they make their journey to a wonderful picnic area, there are many sights to see. They watch for signs, they look around a beautiful park, they take some pictures. Alas! They do not notice that the picnic basket is not as tightly strapped shut as it should be!

Will listeners realize that the picnic lunch is being merrily sprinkled out along the ride? In this Seek-and-Find book, they will have to be looking carefully at the illustrations. There is much to see and discover on each page. Don’t worry if they don’t realize what is happening at first. When the family arrives, everyone will discover what has been going on and luckily they’ll get another chance to find the lost items.

For those who like books like Where’s Waldo, this is a nice challenge. Keep your eyes peeled! Even though this is a picture book, they are not overly easy.

Review: How to Trick the Tooth Fairy


How to Trick the Tooth Fairy

Author: Erin Danielle Russell

Illustrator: Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Publisher: Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2018

Source: ARC

Kaylee is a sassy, little prank princess-in-training. She is always pulling pranks. As much as she’d like to be the best prankster around, she’s not (at least, not yet). The Tooth Fairy is the true princess of pranks. And let’s just say that when the two meet, all hell breaks loose. Which makes this book an incredibly fun read. The two tricksters are continually trying to outdo each other and the results- well, let’s just say things get a bit messy.

For all the wild shenanigans, the illustrations are done in surprisingly muted tones. The pictures certainly convey a lot of magical mischief, but action is used to express this rather than color.

My one hope for readers of this book: I hope the listeners don’t lose a tooth too close to the reading. Otherwise, you might get more of a surprise than you bargain for.

Pranksters unite!


Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: An Atlas of Imaginary Places


An Atlas of Imaginary Places

Author: Mia Cassany

Illustrator: Ana de Lima

Publisher: Prestel Publishing Ltd., 2018 (English edition)

Source: ARC

An Atlas of Imaginary Places takes the reader to the most amazing dream world. Animals change their coats whenever anyone sneezes. A lady giant lives in the sea and she makes paper boats which she fills with beautiful aromas. When these paper boats sink, they create small, unusually shaped islands. And these islands are magical, too. They are places where it rains fish, you can climb the tallest lighthouse, and use your finger to draw a new galaxy. Mountains grow upside down. But don’t worry; if you fall off you land among the clouds. Volcanos spew multi-colored bubble gum. There is even a City of Butterflies.

The illustrations are as magical as the text. The colors are soft and muted, and the drawings of all these wonderful things will just light up your imagination. I particularly like the two illustrations with black backgrounds: the lighthouse fantasy and the City of Butterflies.

Perhaps as you read this book aloud to your young listeners, you can create new ideas for this universe that rests halfway between dream and reality.



*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: On Gull Beach

on gull beachReview:

On Gull Beach

Author: Jane Yolen

Illustrator: Bob Marstall

Publisher: The Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2018

Source: ARC

With summer just around the corner and so many of us heading to the beach, I thought this new picture book by Jane Yolen and Bob Marstall would be just the thing to get everyone prepped.

As a boy walks along the beach, he spots a sea star. As he attempts to pick it up, the sea star is snatched away by a gull. The boy races along the beach in a rescue mission and as he does so, we are introduced to many of the inhabitants of the beach.

At the end of the book, there is factual information called “Life of a New England Beach.” It answers questions like how can an observer identify a Herring Gull and which is correct: starfish or sea star?

I have long admired Yolen’s work and this new book not only teaches but delights readers. Marstall’s illustrations add to the experience. Done in soft blues, creamy whites, and sandy tans, readers are immediately transported to their favorite beach. If only the pages could be infused with a beachy scent!

I’m ready for a beach exploration. I hope this books gets others ready, too.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.



Review: Yoga Frog


Yoga Frog

Author: Nora Carpenter

Illustrator: Mark Chambers

Publisher: Running Press, 2018

Ages 4-8

Source: ARC

For those looking for a different type of activity – something physical, for instance – why not try some yoga?

Anyone who wants to share a yoga practice with children should get a copy of this book. Actually, it is so wonderful that even newbie adult practitioners might want to give it a try. One evening I based my practice on this book and found I loved it.

Readers start the morning with Frog, who is not a morning person and can be a tad grumpy. Together Frog and reader can go through a complete program from warm up to cool down.

The text explains each position in easy-to-understand language. Here is an example:



Sit in an imaginary chair.

Lift your arms in front or alongside your ears.

Feel your strength.

See? Easy! I shared this book with a four-year-old friend and she agreed with me.

Now add the illustrations of a cute and wonderfully flexible little frog, and the poses are very clear even to young readers. I loved the pull-out chart, too. Frog is adorable!

There is a brief note to parents at the end of the book explaining the benefits of yoga. Carpenter, who is a certified yoga instructor, gives a few useful tips in this section, too.

My only complaint is that there isn’t more! How about a nice bedtime routine to help Frog relax?



Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.




Review: Snail Mail


Snail Mail

Author: Samantha Berger

Illustrator: Julia Patton

Publisher: Running Press, 2018Ages

Ages: 3-6, PK-Grade 3

This book starts with the line: “A long, long time ago, but really not THAT long, before e-mail and testing, clicking and sending, mail was delivered in a much different way.” I hate to say this, but young readers/listeners have no idea how mail – the actual physical kind – works. I have actually had to explain to middle school and high school students how to make out an envelope! Hopefully, this book will encourage some changes.

Snail Mail does remind all of us of the pleasure of getting a real card or letter. In this book, the mail really is delivered by snails, a group that includes Dale Snail, Gail Snail, Colonel McHale Snail and Umberto. The particular letter readers get to follow on its journey across the country is a love letter.

The snails brave all kinds of weather. You remember the old line: rain, snow, sleet, hail, etc. etc. The desert is hot, mountains are high. Sometimes they receive help from others. Mostly it is a lot of hard work, but they can tell it is worth it when that very special letter is finally received.

After reading this book, I went out and bought a couple of cards to send to my own children. I put on special stamps and wrote little encouraging notes. I hope other readers will be similarly inspired.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.