Review: Pets and Their Famous Humans

pets and their famous humansReview:

Pets and Their Famous Humans

Author: Ana Gallo

Illustrator: Katherine Quinn

Publisher: Prestel, 2020 (English version)

Kids love pet stories and knowing about the pets of famous people intrigues them. So, despite my own reservations about this book, I think kids will like it.

I like the idea behind the book and I am aware that there are similar titles available that are popular. My reservation comes from this: I wonder if young readers will know, or even care, about some of the famous people chosen. T. S. Eliot? Karl Lagerfeld? Ernest Hemingway? Dorothy Parker? I mean, I am interested in these people, but would a kid feel the same way? Perhaps the animals will tip the balance toward the yes.

I also had a problem with some of the illustrations. If I hadn’t read the names, I would have thought Isaac Newton and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were women. Some of the animals don’t seem terribly cute or cuddly (OK, I am not sure if a pet crocodile can ever be cuddly), but I would think that is a big part of the kid-attraction.

The bios are actually quite interesting. My concern is whether or not kid readers will make it that far. It’s definitely a book for an older picture book crowd, who may be at least familiar with some of the names.


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


Review: Heartbeat



Author: Evan Turk

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018

Source: Personal Purchase

It is not often that I cry over a picture book. Heartbeat is an exception. It is powerfully emotional. It’s moving and intense and although it is the story of many, it feels personal.

The story involves a young whale and her mother. They swim in the ocean’s depths together. Two hearts together singing a song of love. Then whalers kill the mother whale and the young whale is left to swim alone. One heart, one song – all to fuel the ever-growing needs of a human population.

The initial illustrations are in deeply intense, moody colors. Brighter colors blossom across the pages as the two whales swim together. Then harsh white spears break through blackness, as harpoons attack.

Though this story may sound depressing, it is actually a story of hope. After the darkness of the lonely pages, a change occurs. A young girl on a cruise ship hears a message. Two hearts, which may be different, can still sing one song and this song can happen for all of us. “One world, one song, one heartbeat.” The illustrations are once again brighter, more exuberant, giving the feeling that we have come full circle.

Be sure to wipe away the tears in order to read Turk’s Author’s Note at the end of the book. It tells of his personal inspiration for this story, gives a bit of the history behind it, and once again brings us full circle to a more hopeful outlook.

Review: With All My Heart

with all my heart



With All My Heart

Author: Stephanie Stansbie

Illustrator: Richard Smythe

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books, 2019

Welcome to the first post of 2020!

Looking for a sweet and loving bedtime story? With All My Heart will exactly fit the need. It is reminiscent of books like Guess How Much I Love You and The Kissing Hand.

Mama Bear and her baby bear are sharing some loving memories as day fades to night. The text, which is soothing and reassuring, taking the readers forward, from day to night, from season to season, and year to year. And though things may change, Mama’s love is constant.

The illustrations are both vibrant and gentle. Readers can enjoy the sweeping visuals while at the same time exploring the smaller spaces provided by peek-through cut-outs. The cut-outs provide clues as to what will be happening on the next page. They also draw the story forward, using the repetition of the words that appear within the shapes to build the text on the following page.

Text and illustrations work together beautifully. I felt as though the book was providing a visual lullaby.


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

Review: Hiro’s Hats

Image result for hiro's hats elisa kleven

Photo Credit:


Hiro’s Hats

Author: Elisa Kleven

Publisher: Wild Swans Publishing Cooperative, 2019

Source: Personal Purchase

Hiro is a young snow monkey who finds a hat. Unlike some monkeys, Hiro does not think of the hat as just something to keep his head warm during the cold winter. The hat is a friend. Hiro sings to his hat. He shares chestnuts with his hat and with a hungry robin. One day the fierce winter wind blows Hiro’s hat away. The robin, who is by now also Hiro’s friend, is blown away, too. He feels sad without his friends. Unfortunately, one will not return. No worries, though. The ending is sweet and upbeat.

Although Hiro is more like a boy who just happens to look like a snow monkey, I like how Kleven gives information about real snow monkeys at the end of the story. We get a nice mix. A little fiction, a little fact.

The illustrations are mixed-media collage. I love how richly detailed each picture is. Although you can’t feel the texture on the book pages, you certainly get the sense of it. When there is a snowstorm, the reader is right there in the midst of the whirling snow. When spring arrives, you are sitting among the lush foliage and flowers.  I also love how many of the illustrations are framed, with text appearing in the white space surrounding the picture.

Check out Klevin’s website for more information about her and her books:





Review: The Adventures of Moose & Mr. Brown

moose and mr brownReview:

The Adventures of Moose & Mr. Brown

Author: Paul Smith

Illustrated by: Sam Usher

Publisher: Pavilion, 2019

Moose and Monty are twins. While they may look very much alike, they are quite different. Moose is very tidy and organized. Monty? Not so much. It really shouldn’t surprise readers when the two become separated. Moose gets on the correct plane to Alaska and Monty, well, let’s just say he takes a different route.

Moose misses Monty very much, but he meets Mr. Brown, a kindly and wildly creative fashion designer. This chance meeting leads to many adventures for Moose. He is introduced to Mr. Brown’s stimulating, creative studio. He begins creating for Mr. Brown. He travels with Mr. Brown. His life seems very rich, rewarding, and fulfilling. There’s just that one piece missing. He wants his brother back. Everywhere that Moose travels, he looks for Monty. With such determination and perseverance, surely Moose will be successful in his search, even with a brother who is a bit directionally challenged.

This delightfully whimsical story really gets to the heart of things that matter – family, good friends, satisfying work. The illustrations fit the story, too. They are a bit whimsical, with a nice dash of silliness. The overall effect is one that is a mixture of heart-warming and fun.


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

Review: Adventures on Earth


Adventures on Earth

Author: Simon Tyler

Publisher: Pavilion Children’s Books, 2019

Do you have a young reader at home who thirsts for adventure and perhaps prefers nonfiction? This new book, Adventures on Earth, will provide plenty of entertaining reading.

In this book, we visit places few of us ever really see (and many of us don’t want to). We explore the polar regions, learn about the Trans-Arctic Expedition, and discover interesting facts about animals of the region, like penguins and Arctic terns. Did you know that Antarctica has never had indigenous people living on it?

After visiting the coldest regions on Earth, readers can jump right into – you guessed it – volcanoes! (You did guess that, right?) Volcanic exploration is filled with huge risks. Yes, there is all that hot lava to worry about. Volcanoes also release highly toxic gases that overwhelm humans within minutes. Plus, there is also the potential for pyroclastic flows, which sweep down the volcano at high speeds, obliterating everything in their way (think Pompeii).

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Readers can vicariously visit the oceans, the deserts, some of the world’s wildest rivers, the jungle, mountains, and  underground caves and chasms.  Each section provides interesting details about the terrain, the weather, animals of the region, and adaptations that people have made in order to survive.

While the illustrations in this book were fine, I would have really liked to see some photographs included. They would have made this book truly extraordinary. I did, however, think the maps were great. I will repeat myself: we don’t study enough geography any longer! Here’s a great way to get started.


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

Review: I Want a Dog

i want a dogReview:

I Want A Dog

Author: Jon Agee

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019

Source: Personal Purchase

Jon Agee has lots of fans – and for good reason. His books are quirky and fun to read.  His illustrations are somewhat spare, but with lovable characters. His new book, I Want A Dog, is no exception. It’s a book that readers will thoroughly enjoy (whether or not they want dogs, too.)

A very determined young lady has shown up at the Happydale Animal Shelter. She is seeking a dog. Happydale has lots of interesting animals in need of homes – but no dogs! The manager tries to convince her that perhaps another animal would do. However, our young friend knows what she wants and it is definitely a dog.

Everyone will love they way the problem of no dogs is solved. Don’t forget to check out the very last illustration. She really does love her new pet!

Review: No Bears Allowed

no bears allowedReview:

No Bears Allowed

Author: Lydia Lukidis

Illustrator: Tara J. Hannon

Publisher:  Blue Whale Press, 2019

Ages: 4-7

Rabbit is a bit of a scared-y cat (scared-y rabbit, I guess I should say). He’s frightened of things like thunder, things that go bump in the night, and of, course, BEARS! With pointy teeth and long sharp claws to wave about, who wouldn’t be afraid of a bear? Certainly, Bear will want Rabbit for dinner – won’t he?

I love the messages imparted by this book. We can all find friends in unexpected places, especially when we let go of our personal prejudices. It’s important for everyone to be safe, but equally important to recognize the difference between being safe and being fearful simply because we are confronted by something new. By taking some time to consider someone else’s point of view, readers realize that maybe, just maybe, they might be wrong about that scary-looking bear.

The illustrations help keep the pages turning. Rabbit is lovable, Bear is a bit scary, and together the two characters help get the message across in a nice, subtle way.

While some of the 4-7 crowd may be able to read this on their own, I think it’s a great “sharing” book. It opens up reading time for some real honest dialogue – always a plus with me.


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


Review: Noah Builds an Ark


Noah Builds an Ark

Author: Kate Banks

Illustrator: John Rocco

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2019

Source: Public Library

A storm is coming and while Noah’s family prepares, Noah is also preparing for the creatures in his garden. He builds an ark, fills it with nuts and seeds, and invites the animals to gather inside for safety.

Inside his own house, his father tells stories to pass the time. Inside the ark, the beetles and birds each tells their own story in their own way. Noah’s mother sings to help Noah sleep. Crickets in the ark chirp to help the others rest.

Finally, the storm ends and a rainbow appears in the sky. Noah and his family are safe. Noah’s animals in the ark are also safe and can return to their garden home.

The language in this book is wonderfully poetic. Listen:

“A curtain of darkness drew across the sky.”

“The rain splashed down like silver swords thrown down from heaven.”

The illustrations match the mood of the pages perfectly. We see the black clouds of the coming storm. The light fades and the dark curtain is drawn across the page. At the end, as the clouds roll away, there is the exuberant color of the rainbow.


Be sure to look under the book jacket as the books cover and jacket cover are different.

Review: Butterflies in Room 6


Butterflies in Room 6

Author: Caroline Arnold

Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2019

Source: Public Library

If you are looking to combine reading and an activity, this book provides a delightful inspiration. Raise butterflies! This book will help young readers learn about the process of metamorphosis in an understandable way.

Now I know there are those blog readers who will think, “Oh, no, this is probably complicated and will require too much work on my part.” Really, it is not bad. I have raised butterflies many times, both at home and in a classroom. It is very doable. Just order from a reliable supplier (I always used Insect Lore, but I know there are others). They provide instructions. Nothing is terribly difficult. It happens within a few weeks. There is no huge daily time commitment. And it is pretty awesome.

One problem, however, is that you might not get to see your own butterflies emerge from the chrysalis. It happens unexpectedly and quickly. The first couple of times I raised butterflies, we completely missed the emergence. One minute there was a chrysalis. The next time we looked, there was a butterfly. I love how Caroline Arnold’s photographs capture the process.

Although this book focuses on painted lady butterflies, the process is the same for other types of butterflies, too, so it remains a good resource even if you select a different type of butterfly to raise.

At the end of the book, Arnold answers a few butterfly questions. I am glad she addresses “How do you hold a butterfly?” Youngsters are curious and sometimes they can, unintentionally, hurt a butterfly. By teaching them care and respect, children can have the experience in a way that is safe for the butterfly.