Review: TEK

TEKReview:

Tek: The Modern Cave Boy

Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2016

Source: Public Library

Tek is a typical troglodyte child. He lives in a cave. There are plenty of dinosaurs to study and even play with. The world is evolving at a remarkable pace. The problem is that Tek is missing it all. You see, he’s plugged in to his electronics and it seems that NOTHING can get him away from his game box, phone or tablet (yup, even in the Ice Age). Clearly, something has to be done. His parents don’t know what. His best friend, Larry the dinosaur, can’t convince Tek to come out and play. It’s not until Big Poppa steps in and shakes things up that Tek realizes there is something more beyond the eerie glow of his cave.

This story is definitely one to share. It gives a very obvious message that too much electronics might not be such a great thing, yet it never comes across as preachy. It is written in such a way that we can genuinely enjoy the story’s “moral.” The text is filled with the humor of everyday life. I love the dinosaur names, especially the Flying Idontgiveadactyl. The pictures are also funny. Tek, living during a time when people were hairier, has a beard. (His mom does not but she does have her hair held together with a bone in a Flintstonesque style.)

Though this book is very entertaining, I wouldn’t expect miracles. Your own little troglodyte might not be willing to give up their electronics so easily, but it is certainly worth a try.

Review: The Wolf, The Duck, & The Mouse

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The Wolf, The Duck, & The Mouse

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2017

Source: Public Library

Collaborators Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have once again worked together to produce a picture book which young readers are sure to love. In this pourquoi tale we learn the reason that wolves howl at the moon. The book jacket gives us the simple story line: “This story is about a mouse, and how he got swallowed up by a wolf, and who he met down in its belly, and what happened after that.” Believe me when I tell you that you won’t guess all the things that go on in the wolf’s belly, but you will enjoy the fun!

The text is simple and straightforward. “Early one morning, a mouse met a wolf, and he was quickly gobbled up.” That’s pretty clear, even to the youngest of listeners. Then the humor kicks in – for instead of being digested, the mouse makes a friend. Inside the belly, duck lives a pretty nice life (except there are no windows). And it’s even better when mouse joins him, because now there are dinner parties, dancing and music for two. It is quite a ruckus. Think of how that poor wolf must be feeling! Then along comes someone who could change things for all three critters, bringing an outcome that combines both the unexpected and the familiar.

Klassen’s illustrations are a bit somber and muted in color palette (well, they would have to be when you’re living in a windowless belly!), but nonetheless sparkle with the amusing side of the situation. Fortunately, the story and pictures are more upbeat, making the reader feel like they have gained friends themselves.

 

 

 

 

Review: Somebunny Loves Me

somebunnyReview:

Somebunny Loves Me

Author: Parry Gripp

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2018

Source: ARC

With Valentine’s Day already here, I have a book that would be a nice, last-minute gift for the younger set. (I’m also thinking Easter baskets, here, especially with the sweet little bunny on the cover).

Whether you are considering getting a new pet or perhaps your young readers simply love all kinds of animals, this new book by National Geographic Kids is a great choice. Readers are introduced to all kinds of BFFs: kittens, puppies, goldfish, chicks, turtles, lizards, ponies. Each verse focuses not only on what good friends these animals can be, but how we need to care for and love them in return.

The photographs are engaging. Who wouldn’t want one of these adorable little critters? (OK, I’m not a big lizard fan and it doesn’t seem cute to me, but tastes do differ.)

I like the message of this book. Pets are fun, pets are lovable, pets require responsibility (and not just on the part of Mom or Dad). What I also like is that if you go online to natgeokids.com/somebunny, you can sing along with Gripp!

 

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

 

Review: The Blizzard’s Robe

blizzard's robeReview:

The Blizzard’s Robe

Author/Illustrator: Robert Sabuda

Publisher: Athenium Books for Young Readers, 1999

Source: Public Library

There are many myths and legends about the Northern Lights. In Robert Saduba’s picture book version, a clan that lived near the Arctic Sea feared the long, cold months of winter. They lived in near darkness and with the darkness came the thing that they feared the most: Blizzard. Blizzard had the power to destroy their village with its strong winds and snow.

Among these people lived a young girl named Teune who would sit by the hearth and sew deerskin robes to keep the people warm. Her robes were not only practical; they were beautiful. One night as Blizzard came swirling into their village, he passed over Teune’s home. There was no more wood to keep Blizzard out and in desperation she threw the deerskins onto the dying fire. As a result, Blizzard’s own robe caught fire and was destroyed.

Although the clan was happy that they would have one less thing to fear from the night, Teune was sad. During a dream, Blizzard went to Teune and told her if she would help him, he would honor her people with a great gift. Secretly Teune began a fantastic garment for Blizzard and in return, as promised, he rewarded the clan with colored waves of light.

Like many people, when I first think of the colors of winter, cool blues and grays come to mind. Sabuda’s book is filled with jubilant color! From the fiery reds and oranges of a winter sunset to the cheerful and comforting yellows of firelight and the pulsing white of the winter stars, color bursts from the pages in a glorious celebration. Although the story itself is wonderful, this is certainly one to add to your collection based on the art alone.

 

 

 

Review: Mighty Moby

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Mighty Moby

Author: Barbara DaCosta

Illustrator: Ed Young

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2017

Source: Public Library

Mighty Moby starts out as a retelling of the classic tale, Moby Dick. With images daring and dark and dramatic (just check out the cover for a small sample), the reader gets pulled along as Captain Ahab begins his obsessive chase for the behemoth whale.

And then the story changes. No spoilers, but the unexpected ending draws us in to a place of security and safety. The illustrations evoke feelings of comfort and warmth.

Young’s illustrations are done in a series of wonderfully inspiring mixed-media collages. DaCosta uses language found in the original text of Moby Dick, much of which makes the reader feel like chanting a sea chantey.

Now as everybody knows, I especially love when there are activities and resources to go with books. And we are lucky in that there is a website that provides just that. Go to https://mightymoby.wordpress.com/ to learn about the book and find activities to make your own whale and more.

Review: Vincent Can’t Sleep

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Vincent Can’t Sleep

Author: Barb Rosenstock

Illustrator: Mary Grandpré

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017

Source: Public Library

“It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.”

Vincent van Gogh

One of the most wonderful encounters during winter is a walk/snowshoe hike on a moonlit night. It’s like walking among diamonds and more colorful than you can imagine. When I saw this book sitting on the library shelf, I knew I had to read it. And it is more than just reading; it is experiencing.

Vincent Can’t Sleep gives some brief biographical information about van Gogh – an appropriate amount for picture book audiences. (The Author’s Note gives further information for those interested.) What the book does even better is help us explore the darkness, not as something black and frightening, but as simply a different world which is also filled with color and texture and light. “Is the night sky at rest? Or do eleven stars pulse like a beating heart?”

The illustrations are reminiscent of van Gogh’s work, but manage to portray his “many-colored moods” while at the same time giving reader’s, some of whom will not as yet have been introduced to the art of van Gogh, a taste of his technique.

What could have made this book better? Some ideas on projects to share with young readers. However, The Starry Night art ideas abound on the Internet, so perhaps this seemed redundant. I hope adult readers will check out some of these resources to combine the story with hands-on art.

Review: The Storm Whale (in Winter)

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The Storm Whale (2013)

The Storm Whale in Winter (2016)

Author/Illustrator: Benji Davies

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Source: Personal Purchase

Most people don’t think of visiting the beach in winter. Yes, it is a bit cold to think of swimming and sunbathing, but walking the beach in winter is beautiful. So when putting together my winter reading picture books I decided to include a couple of beachy selections. In these two companion books, we explore Noi’s relationship with a young whale.

In the first story, Noi is often lonely because his father, a fisherman, goes out to sea every day to catch fish. One day after a great storm, Noi finds a young whale washed ashore. Noi knows he must take action or the whale will die. He gives the whale some water, but realizes it will need much more. Noi piles the whale into his wagon and pulls him home. There he places the whale in the bathtub, where he plans to keep his friend. When Noi’s father returns, he finds the whale (pretty tough to hide, really) and together he and Noi save the young whale’s life. In the process, Noi and his father become closer.

In The Storm Whale in Winter, Noi’s father heads out for his last fishing trip of the season. The water turns to ice and at night his father does not return. Noi goes looking for his father and is successful in finding his boat which is stuck in the ice. But his father is not there. Noi is frightened on the boat in the cold darkness. Then he hears a BUMP. Looking over the side, he finds his friend, Storm Whale, ready and waiting to help Noi to safety.

In both books, water scenes are done in moody blues and grays, while the scenes on the beach are brighter, sunnier, and more colorful. Noi is adorable, as are his six cats and the whale. They all evoke feelings of friendship, comfort, and caring.

 

 

Review: Best in Snow

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Best in Snow

Author: April Pulley Sayre

Publisher: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2016

Source: Public Library

I might be the only one who’s saying so, but it’s time for a little snow! So I’ve looked for books to add to the “snowy day stash” and this is definitely one to get.

The story is simple. There’s a freeze, then a breeze, and in blows some snow. What really makes this special is the photographs that accompany the words. They are exquisite. With pictures that have scenes like the lacy of effect of ice formed on branches or snowflakes settling on the animals who brave the winter, these alone are enough to keep me enchanted for hours.

Of course, I also really like that factual information about snow is included at the end of the book. Nothing too heavy or in-depth, but just enough to hold the attention of the picture book crowd.

To learn more about April Pulley Sayre and her books, visit http://www.aprilsayre.com/

Review: Binx the Jinx

Binx the JinxReview:

Binx the Jinx

Author: Michelle Hird

Publisher: Tiny Tree, an imprint of Matthew James Publishing, Ltd., 2017

Binx, a little black cat, has moved to a new neighborhood, where he is confronted by three not-very-nice cats who pick on Binx because of his black color. They tell him he was born with a horrible curse because black cats are unlucky. Binx is on the verge of tears as he runs away.

Along comes Gin, a feisty new friend, who is brave enough to stand up to the bully cats. She corrects the other cats. Black cats are not bad luck; they bring good luck! And he must have luck, for he now has a wonderful, new friend.

This story has a nice little message that even the youngest will understand. The illustrations are  adorable – Binx has big, tear-filled eyes and Gin is a pretty, little orange cat.

This delightful picture book would be an excellent choice for a holiday gift basket. A couple of little cat stuffies (one black and one orange, of course) would certainly add to the pleasure!

 

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

Review: The Bad Seed

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The Bad Seed

Author: Jory John

Illustrator: Pete Oswald

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2017

Source: Public Library

Sunflower Seed (my name for the seed) is a baaaad seed. All the other seeds are afraid of him. He’s always late, doesn’t wash his hands or feet, cuts in line, and never listens.

Why is he so bad? Well, there has been some real tragedy in Sunflower Seed’s life. Once he was part of a happy family. Then his sunflower home drooped and he and his family were packed away in darkness. The next thing he knew he was heading down the gullet of a sunflower-munching giant! He survives due to a lucky spit, but Sunflower Seed is certainly damaged by the experience. He becomes BAD.

Readers and listeners might recognize a few of our sunflower friend’s traits, but the good news is he is ready to be happy again. He’s not perfect by any means, he’s learning to make the change. It’s a nice little message for all of us.

I love the seed illustrations. There are peanuts, corn kernels, almonds, pistachios, cashews to name some of the seed friends. They are cute and really kind of funny.