Review: Sesame Street – Another Monster at the End of This Book

sesame streetReview:

Sesame Street – Another Monster at the End of This Book

Adapted by Meg Roth based on the original story by Jon Stone

Publisher: Studio Fun International, an imprint of Printer’s Row Publishing Group, 2018

This book has been around for quite a while. I remember reading it to my children, and I doubt it was newly published even then. However, it is one of those stories that never loses its charm and this new interactive version makes it even more fun.

Sesame Street characters Grover and Elmo are having a little difference of opinion. Grover is determined that they should not go to the end of the book because there is a monster lurking there. Scary! Elmo, however, is anxious to get there. He wants a good look at the monster. So he – and the reader – go racing through the pages to see just what or who is waiting at the end of the book.

Each page is filled with fun pictures, lots of large letters, and some sort of interactive portion. Some pages have flaps to turn back. Some have pull-out sections, while others are textured or have peek-a-boo holes in them. The last page, on which we finally meet the monster, has a nice, big, pop-up display.

This book is a great selection for the read-aloud crowd, and it is the kind of book they are going to want to pick up and read through on their own. Fortunately, the pages are heavy (board book heavy) and the construction is pretty solid. Still, it may have to be replaced at some point as it is sure to be a favorite book for many readers.

 

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

Review: Have I Ever Told You?

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Have I Ever Told You?

Author: Shani King

Illustrator: Anna Horváth

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

For such a small book, this selection really packs a powerful message. Sure, we often tell our children we love them, but there are so many other important things that we might forget to say. They can be whatever they want to be, no matter who they are. Have you remembered to tell your child today that they make you happy – just by being themselves? You might not have remembered to tell them how much you enjoy their stories and the shared conversations you have with one another. Have you explained that they can come to you with their problems, no matter how big or small? Maybe you’ve forgotten to explain about respecting other people or how they should stand up for others no matter what their color, faith, or ability. Have you explained that it is OK to disagree – but even then that courtesy and respect are important?

This book could seem heavy or preachy, but it doesn’t. Part of that is due to the language, but the illustrations play an equally important role. Almost all of the pictures feature hands: hands waving to one another, hands spelling out messages, hands sharing stories by using puppets. Many of the illustrations include charming little alien-like critters who, instead of being scary, make us feel like we have the cutest sort of friends.

Together the words and illustration create a book that is beautiful, thought-provoking, and inspiring. A must read for everyone.

 

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

Review: Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow

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Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow: Colors and First Words

Author: Judith Drews

Publisher: Prestel, 2018

Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow is just what it says – a book that introduces colors and first words. What the title doesn’t indicate is the exuberance of the colors: cheery yellow, calming blue, vibrant lilac. Even the brown seems cuddly with its big friendly bear.

Better yet, the words will be familiar so even beginners will be able to “read.” The objects are everyday items, but manage not to be boring: cupcakes and cucumbers, balloons and briefs, monsters (with stinky breath) and the moon, toilet paper and tooth brushes.

This is a good basic book to add to your home library. Young readers can review colors, see everyday words, and parents can take it a step further with things like alphabet reviews and story starter games.

 

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

Review: The VERY Impatient Caterpillar

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The VERY Impatient Caterpillar

Author: Ross Burach

Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2019

Source: ARC

I picked up this advance reader copy at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – and you can expect to learn more about the goodies I got in future posts – during the Educator’s Night program.

Have you ever gone on a road trip with a young child who, having barely made it out of the driveway, begins to ask “Are we there yet?” Ross Burach’s book takes this phenomenon to a new level. His impatient caterpillar wants to know “Have I transformed into a butterfly yet?” The process takes two weeks. Yes, TWO WEEKS! Can you imagine being trapped in a car with a noisy kid for TWO WEEKS? After reading this, you won’t need to imagine it. You will experience it.

If this sounds like a trip you don’t want to make, rest assured. The book is one you will want to read. Watching our little caterpillar friend struggle through metamorphosis isn’t painful; it’s lively and funny and even slightly informative. The illustrations are big and bold and bright. It’s one of those books you will reach for again and again – and enjoy it every time.

Review: LOVE

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LOVE

Author: Stacy McAnulty

Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Publisher: Hachette Book Group, 2018

Ages: 3-8

Love has a lot of requirements. It needs fancy dinners and special presents. It calls for bouquets of flowers and designer greeting cards and fancy chocolates. It sounds like poetry and comes in the shape of a heart.

If it sounds like love is something hard to do, think again. This is one book where the illustrations are crucial. That fancy dinner? It’s offered to a dog with a broken leg. Those designer greeting cards? They are of the homemade variety, using supplies like construction paper and crayons. The poetry? It’s sketched into the sand on the beach and etched into the frost on a window.

I love the message of this book. Love comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and is shared with all kinds of people, be they family, friends, neighbors, or pets. It’s another great bedtime story, but it’s also a great idea-starter. How can all of us love and help others? I am sure each family can come up with ideas of their own (and you should!)

 

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

Review: Mother Earth’s Lullaby

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Mother Earth’s Lullaby: A Song for Endangered Animals

Author: Terry Pierce

Illustrator: Carol Heyer

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

It’s time for bed. As the day ends and night closes in, we say goodnight to a selection of baby animals of endangered species. The giant panda, the yellow-footed rock wallaby, the California condor, the Polar bear, the American red wolf, the Sumatran tiger, the Javan rhinoceros, the Red-tailed Amazon parrot, the Vaquita dolphin, the Northern spotted owl, the Hawaiian goose, and the Key deer snuggle in close with their mothers. Pictured in their native habitats, the animals rest and are at peace.

At the end of the book, there is a short informational paragraph about each of the endangered species. There is also information about success stories.  The Indian rhino, green sea turtles, Trumpeter swans, and the bald eagle have all made recoveries off the endangered species list. I would have liked to see them included on the pages, too. It is encouraging to know that our efforts to save animals have made a difference.

The illustrations begin with a mom reading to her two young children, cuddling close as they share the story. We go through the pages of baby animals and their moms, also cuddling close as they prepare for night, until we come full circle. Mom is looking at the book as her two young children have drifted off to sleep. It’s very soothing – the perfect bedtime story.

 

 

 

Review: If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur

da vinci dinosaurReview:

If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur

Author: Amy Newbold

Illustrator: Greg Newbold

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

I am going to start this post with a cliché: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

When I first saw the cover of If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur, I will admit that I thought it looked kind of weird. I didn’t have high hopes for the book. I had this book on my desk and a number of other adults had a similar reaction.

AND THEN WE OPENED THE BOOK…

Every one of us loved it. Over and over again, I heard, “This is a really good book” in a tone of great surprise.

Amy and Greg Newbold use dinosaurs – and a helpful little hamster – to introduce us to great works of art. Not only do we explore da Vinci’s take on dinosaurs, but we are given ideas based on the works of Edgar Degas, Cassius Coolidge, Katsushika Hokusai, Mary Cassatt, Grandma Moses, Frida Kahlo, Qi Baishi, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Diego Rivera, Franz Marc, Harrison Begay, Alma Thomas, Aaron Douglas, Mark Rothko, Lois Mailou Jones, Marguerite Zorach, and Edvard Munch. Dinosaurs of all different varieties are included in the artwork, but that doesn’t mean that readers won’t be able to appreciate the unique style of each artist.

At the end of the book, there is a bite-sized biography about each artist, a list of the dinosaurs (and whose artwork featured each particular dino) and advice from Greg Newbold for artists to develop their own artistic style and voice.

I love books that invite us to explore a topic even further. Yes, young readers might want more dinosaur books. They might also be intrigued enough to check out a longer biography on some of the artists to learn more about their work. Supply some paper and crayons with which to explore their own artistic interests. Visit an art museum. Perhaps they will even have ideas for adapting the work of other artists to the dinosaur theme of this book. Whatever form their interest takes, follow up on it. Enjoy looking at the pictures together. You will certainly see dinosaurs from a whole new perspective.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Review: Oskar Can…

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Oskar can….

Author/Illustrator: Britta Teckentrup

Publisher: Prestel Publishing Ltd., 2018

There are plenty of things that Oskar can do. He can skateboard, jump almost as high as his friend Mo, make a perfect cup of tea, do yoga, and count to four.  He’s a pretty talented little bird.

I like that the end of this book invites readers to remember and appreciate all the things they can do, too. There are so many things, little ones, perhaps, but we take them for granted. Here are some ideas that young friends have shared with me:

I can draw.

I can paint my nails a pretty color.

I can do math.

I can be a friend.

I can make a poster.

I can share a snack.

This book was a wonderful starting place to get young readers thinking. Once started, the whole idea of thinking of all the things they can do had a snowball effect. It’s far too easy to grumble about all the things we can’t do and it was wonderfully refreshing to view life from a more positive angle.

The illustrations are fairly simplistic, yet they manage to convey the joy that Oskar feels in his accomplishments. He’s one happy-looking little bird. Though Oskar is black with a gray beak, plenty of rich colors are introduced in the backgrounds so the book never seems somber or dark. The pages are filled with light and movement, giving readers a sense that they, too, can probably do anything.

 

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

Review: Henry is Kind

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Henry is Kind: A Story of Mindfulness

Author: Linda Ryden

Illustrator: Shearry Malone

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

Ms. Snowden’s class takes their seats in order to practice mindfulness. They also practice heartfulness, a compassion meditation that increases feelings of empathy, happiness, and connection to others. Everyone enjoys the practice, but when Ms. Snowden starts The Kindness Project, Henry hits a snag. Each student is to make a picture of something kind they have done during the week and Henry can’t think of a single kind thing he has done. He is upset and yells, “Kindness is stupid!”

Luckily Henry has his fellow classmates to help. He has done plenty of kind actions, but he hasn’t been aware of them. When his friends point out all the kind things he has done – from sharing his snack to inviting a new student to join in a game – Henry realizes that he has been kind. He just needed to learn to recognize his actions. He realizes that helping others makes him feel good, too.

As she explains at the end of the story, Linda Ryden has been teaching mindfulness and heartfulness to her elementary students for the last fifteen years.  These practices have contributed to a more caring classroom and a more positive school environment. There is plenty of research to back up her personal findings.

I am hearing about a lot of mindfulness and kindness practices popping up in schools. My own school has started a Kindness Club and some of the teachers practice Zen-day Wednesday (a practice I personally like so much I wish it happened every day). For anyone looking for ideas to start a mindfulness/heartfulness practice with their students (or, in fact, in any kind of a group), this book is an excellent starting point. With a story to share and tips and resources for the leader, it’s a great beginning.

 

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

Review: Eppie the Eleplant

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Eppie the Elephant (who was allergic to peanuts)

Author: Livingstone Crouse

Illustrator: Steve Brown

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books, 2018

Eppie the Elephant is starting school and she’s got one major rule she won’t forget: NO PEANUTS. You see, Eppie is allergic to peanuts. She’s a bit worried about this allergy. She wonders if the other children will laugh at her or know that she is different. She does make friends, but the moment of truth comes at lunch time. Eppie is “pointed to a lone, distant seat.” Her friends are not aware of her allergy and bring things like pb&j sandwiches and bags of peanuts. So there she sits, all alone, singled out, and sad.

Spoiler: There is a nice ending to this story and honestly, I think it is very realistic. Most children are very accepting of their friends’ food allergies. Their parents, however, are another matter.

One of my children has a peanut allergy. I can still remember how my child, the lone one in the class, had to forgo all the wonderful birthday treats because they were not allergy-friendly. (I did send in some nut-free crackers for the teacher to keep on hand, but let’s be real. How can a cracker compare with a wonderfully frosted cupcake? Later, the school stopped allowing edible birthday treats.) When I worked in preschool, there were several students with peanut allergies. By my preschool days, we were inspecting snacks (there were some severe allergies) and any child who brought in anything with nuts had their snack confiscated and had to be content with Saltines. Yet there were always parents who would forget and not even check what they were sending. Daily.

I think this is a great book for sharing. The message is important, but told in a way that is not preachy. The illustrations are adorable. I just want to cuddle Eppie! And don’t forget to check out the end papers. It certainly gives a new picture of what life can be like with an allergy.

 

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