Review: I’m Trying to Love Spiders

I'm Trying to Love SpidersReview:

I’m Trying to Love Spiders

Author/Illustrator: Bethany Barton

Publisher: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2015

Source: Library

I’ll be honest. In the official spider test, I chose d. run away screaming. So thinking my attitude may need some adjustment, I decided to give this picture book a try.

It’s hard to like spiders or their relatives, scorpions and ticks. They’re just not cuddly. Almost all of them are venomous, though most cannot bite a human (note that I did not say all – a particularly disturbing thought). They use their venom to liquefy their prey, which is kind of gross even if it does rid the world of a lot of unwanted pests. And it is not particularly comforting to know that there are some 40,000 species of spiders.

For young readers, though, this book gives plenty of arachnid facts, told in a very engaging way. Several species are listed, including all kinds of fun facts, so be sure to check out the end papers. For example, did you know that the Bird-Dung Crab Spider hides in plain sight by looking like bird poop? Or that there is even a spider called the Happy Face Spider? Actually, I have to admit it. This book actually leaves me wanting to know more about spiders.

I just don’t want to get too close. As Barton is the first to admit, loving – or at least getting to know – spiders is not easy, but as she also points out, we can all keep trying.

Check out Bethany Barton’s website at:



Review: Because of an Acorn

Because of an AcornReview:

Because of an Acorn

Authors: Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer

Illustrator: Preston Gannon

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, 2016

Source: Library

Because of an Acorn is a picture book intended for readers ages 5-9. It tells a story highlighting the interconnectedness of everything in nature. From an acorn will grow a tree. The tree can provide a safe home for a bird. The bird may spread seeds, which will provide food for other woodland creatures. In turn, those animals become food for predators.

At the end of the book, the authors provide explanations about ecosystems and food chains. They talk about the importance of trees, specifically the white oak as the foundation of the forest. Their notes give us a real sense of the importance of trees in our environment.

I think this book would be an excellent resource in the classroom library. The natural cycles are simply explained, but the connections are clear.  The illustrations are simple and not distracting. I especially like the cut-outs at the beginning and end of the book. I think that these also help to show the links from one page to the next, whether it is the acorn to the tree or the leaf as a part of the larger tree.


Review: Slugs in Love

Slugs in LoveReview:

Slugs in Love

Author: Susan Pearson

Illustrator: Kevin O’Malley

Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012

Source: Library

In a world of many, many slugs, it’s hard to find the right one. Marylou knows that Herbie is the slug for her. The trouble is, Herbie doesn’t even know who she is.

Marylou’s solution to get noticed is to write poetry in slime all around the garden. She’s not very successful at first. After all, snail trails are easily washed away by rain and gardeners have the nasty habit of picking up their tools – even those with poetic slug love notes on them – and putting them away. Herbie does get the message eventually and then he, too, goes looking for the wonderful girl-slug who writes such romantic poetry.

For most of us, “romantic” and “lovable” are not the first two words that come to mind when we think of slugs. Marylou and Herbie are different. They charm us with their love-filled googly eyes. We blush and smile over their poetic words of slug-love.

Check out Susan Pearson’s website, especially this interview with Marylou:

And here is the link to Kevin O’Malley’s website:


Review: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!

I Ain't Gonna Paint No MoreReview:

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!

Author: Karen Beaumont

Illustrator: David Catrow

Publisher: Harcourt, Inc., 2005

Source: Library

After a little “incident” with some paint involving walls, floors, doors and even the curtains, Mama tells her little tufty-topped mischief maker that there’s not going to be any more fooling about with paint. He’s popped into the bathtub and the paints are confiscated and put on an out-of-reach shelf in the closet.

But what’s life without a little color? How can one just stop doing what they love best?

So down come the paints. This time, though, will be different. Walls and floors are out of the question, but what’s wrong with adding a splash or two of color to other things – say a head or an arm, for instance? Why not decorate a leg to look like an Easter egg?

Simple ink illustrations done in primarily black and white gradually give way to splashes of color, then a riot of color and design. And what designs! Ants marching up the arm and alien faces on hands!

Match this story up with the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” and both the reader and the listener are in for a rollicking good time.

Visit Karen Beaumont’s website at:

Visit David Catrow’s webstie at:

Both sites are as fun as the book! Be sure to check them out.

Review: Whose Hands Are These?

Whose Hands are TheseReview:

Whose Hands Are These? A Community Helper Guessing Book

Author: Miranda Paul

Illustrator: Luciana Navarro Powell

Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2016

Source: Library

Every preschool and kindergarten has their unit on community helpers. For a fresh perspective, Whose Hands Are These? is an excellent way to introduce some of the helpers of our community.

There is quite a nice variety of community helpers explored: farmers, cooks, police, scientists, potters, news reporters, mechanics, architects, referees, physicians and teachers. While a very brief description of what each person does is given in the book, there is an in-depth discussion at the end of the book which would be especially helpful with older children.

The community helpers are also pretty diverse, not only by ethnicity and gender, but also by age (who says people stop working just because they are older? They are also experienced and knowledgeable.)

Visit Miranda Paul’s website at:

Visit Luciana Navarro Powell’s website at:


Review: First Stories Fairy Tales


First Stories Cinderella

First Stories Rapunzel

First Stories Beauty and the Beast

Illustrated by Dan Taylor

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books, an imprint of Printers Row Publishing Group, 2016

Source: ARC

If you are hoping to introduce toddlers to classic fairy tales, these wonderfully sturdy board books are a good place to start.

The stories are much simplified, but what is going to keep this young crowd busy is all the push, pull, and slide features. (OK, OK – it kept me busy, too). I was really impressed with the quality. I truly think these books will stand up to the pressures that little hands will put on them. The size was nice, too. They are not so small as to be easily lost, but not too big or cumbersome, either. The illustrations are bright, colorful and just detailed enough so they are interesting but not overwhelming.

Don’t forget to check out the back cover. Each one contains a little critter for readers to search for in the book.  Just a bit of extra fun to share!

Check out these and other offerings at:


*Note: These books were provided to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Series: How Do Dinosaurs…?

How Do DinosaursReview:

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? (2015)

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? (2007)

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? (2012)

Author: Jane Yolen

Illustrator: Mark Teague

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

Source: Public Library

Just to show how versatile Jane Yolen is as a writer, I’ve gone full circle. I started with her newest picture book, moved on to a couple middle grade novels, a young adult novel, and now I am returning to picture books. If you were to ask me which I liked best, I couldn’t tell you. All were excellent.

I love the How Do Dinosaurs… books! You might wonder why since, after all, these books are pointing out our faults and telling us, “No, no! You mustn’t do that!” Yet it’s done in such a spirit of caring that we don’t mind. They do not come across as didactic. Instead, we find them funny and can even sheepishly admit, “Yup, I’ve done that on occasion.”

Teague’s illustrations help a lot. Dinosaurs are perennial favorites with kids and his are so wonderfully large and colorful (in more ways than one). Who wouldn’t identify with these big guys (and girls)?

I’ve read these books in preschool classes and can tell you honestly that they are very popular with the students. They are also useful for opening conversations, too. I especially liked How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe in that respect.

Review: Over in the Wetlands


Over in the Wetlands

Author: Caroline Starr Rose

Illustrator: Rob Dunlavey

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 2015

Source: Public library

A storm is coming. As a hurricane blows up, we read of its effect on the bayou. The animals prepare as the angry clouds come rolling in. Mama Gator gathers her young. Egrets hide among the cattails and fish dive into deeper waters as the storm’s full force strikes, until at last the storm is over and peace returns.

I love the illustrations in this book. They complete the circle of the storm beautifully. From the sunny day to the first few clouds, we can sense the coming storm ourselves. When the storm strikes, all is black. We can just barely make out the trees and plants in the murk. Later, after the hurricane has passed, the sun – albeit in a blood-red sunset – returns.

I like this type of book to snuggle up with a child on a stormy day/night. It helps us know that, yes, we are in the middle of a storm and it may be scary, but also that it will end. Tranquility will return.

At the end of the book, there is an Author’s Note about Louisiana’s wetlands. It explains the importance of these wetlands in the ecological system. Rose also tells more about the animals that play a part in this story. I like when stories give information, but it is kept to a simple level so that listeners will not be overwhelmed.

Learn more about Caroline Starr Rose:

Learn more about Rob Dunlavey:


Review: Niko Draws a Feeling

Niko Draws a FeelingReview:

Niko Draws a Feeling

Author: Bob Raczka

Illustrator: Simone Shin

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., 2017

Source: Public Library

Niko loves to draw. It is the way he expresses his world. Unfortunately, no one understands his pictures because they aren’t the usual drawings made by a child. Niko doesn’t draw the sun. Instead, he draws the warm he receives from the sun. He doesn’t draw the ice cream truck or even its bell; he draws the ring-a-ling he hears when the ice cream truck comes along.

It’s rough when your family and friends tell you, “I don’t get it.”

Then Iris moves in next door – and she gets it! How nice to have a friend that understands.

Raczka and Shin have created a book that reminds all of us about the pleasure of creating and expressing ourselves. The words are poetic; the illustrations joyful.

Review: All We Know

All We KnowReview:

All We Know

Author: Linda Ashman

Illustrator: Jane Dyer

Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016

Source: Public Library

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I was hoping to find an appropriately sweet and loving sort of book. All We Know is just that – and more. Ashman’s words are lyrical and tender, making this a perfect cuddle-time story.

I’ve long been a fan of Jane Dyer. Her illustrations of rosy-faced children and sweet animals are somewhat reminiscent of the work of Bessie Pease Gutmann, but the colors are clear, bright and beautiful.

Learn more about Linda Ashman:

Learn more about Jane Dyer:


Happy Mother’s Day!