Tuesday, August 23, 2016

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: A Big Surprise for Little Card/Bring me a Rock!


Fall in love with a disarming picture-book hero in this quirky ode to spirit, identity, and the joy of having (or being) a library card.

In the world of cards, each one has a special job to do. Big Card keeps important papers in order. Tiny Card can be exchanged for a prize in an arcade. Round Card hangs out in a glamorous boutique. But is any card as lucky as Little Card? He’s going to school to become a birthday card — in other words, to sing, play games, eat cake, and be happy all day long. But wait! On the day he’s supposed to take his talents into the world, Long Card tells him there’s been a mix-up and they need to trade jobs. How can Little Card bring his exuberance into a library, a quiet place of books and rules and hushing? Offbeat and utterly endearing, this tale of a little guy who gives it all he’s got is complete with a sweet twist and a surprise ending.


Little Card is a delightful young fellow who is thrilled when he gets a letter telling him it's time to train for his future job as a birthday card.  He enjoys singing, and dancing, and shouting, "Happy Birthday!" Unfortunately, it turns out that he got the letter intended for his friend, Long Card.  Little Card ends up as a library card and discovers that it's just as joyful as being a birthday card.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Little Card's adventures with his new friend, Alex.  For librarians like myself, this is a great book for encouraging children to find books they enjoy, show them the library can be a delightful place, and to treat books with respect.  A couple of little songs also add some music to this fabulous read a loud.  The illustrations are fun and lighthearted and add the perfect touch to this sweet story.


From the author-illustrator of Pardon Me! and Float comes a funny and fun picture book about a little bug who proves that even the small can be mighty.

When a power-hungry grasshopper king wants a throne to loom over his bug subjects, he summons each of them to “bring me a rock!” One by one, the bugs bring him the biggest rocks they can carry, but one little bug can contribute only a very small pebble. The grasshopper king shuns the little bug. But when his throne is in danger of tipping, that little bug might be the only one who can save him.

With beautiful, bold illustrations and a folk-tale sensibility, Bring Me a Rock! is a classic underdog tale with a humorous twist.


Bring Me a Rock! feels an awful lot like a fable about the dangers of being greedy and power hungry versus the value of even the littlest 'bug'.  The rude grasshopper orders the other bugs to build him a tower fit for a 'king'.  But when the littlest bug shows up with a pebble he is summarily rejected.  But when the grasshopper ends up in trouble, it's the littlest bug who steps up with a big solution.  Miyares illustrations are the real stars here as he uses the power of size and perspective to emphasize the differences in power and influence.  The facial expressions and the use of color are masterful as is the changing text and shape of the rock.  The young readers will undoubtedly figure out that the grasshopper's in trouble without any words being said.  This book does have words, but it's the pictures, the visuals, that really tell the story here.  This book makes for an interesting read, a great teaching opportunity, and an award-worthy picture book.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

SERIES THURSDAY: The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills


Science-obsessed fourth grader Nora has ants all figured out—now she just has to try to understand her fellow humans!

The trouble with ants is . . .
. . . people think they’re boring.
. . . they are not cuddly.
. . . who would ever want them for a pet?

Nora Alpers is using her new notebook to record the behavior of ants. Why? Because they are fascinating! Unfortunately, no one agrees with her. Her mom is not happy about them being in the house, and when Nora brings her ant farm to school for show and tell, her classmates are not very impressed. They are more interested in cat videos, basketball practice, or trying to set a Guinness World Record (although Nora wouldn’t mind that).

Mostly they are distracted by the assignment their teacher Coach Joe has given them—to write a persuasive speech and change people’s minds about something. Will Nora convince her friends that ants are as interesting as she thinks they are? Or will everyone still think of ants as nothing but trouble?

With real science facts, a classroom backdrop, an emphasis on friendship, and appealing black-and-white interior illustrations from artist Katie Kath, The Nora Notebooks is perfect for newly independent readers—especially budding scientists like Nora!—and adults who want to encourage awareness of STEM subjects in young readers.


There are several things that I really liked about this book.  First, I appreciated how comfortable Nora is in her own shoes.  Often children who like something that is not particularly popular, like ants, hesitate to share that interest for fear of being rejected.  But it is not her peer´s rejection that disappoints Nora.  She sets out to break a Guinness World Record by being the first 10-year old to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal.  Nora figures that doing experiments with her ants will be more than enough to write an article.  And with both parents working as scientists, Nora gets plenty of encouragement from home.  Second, I appreciated the fact that Nora hangs out with the girls at school, but has two good friends that are boys. Thirdly, Nora is very logical, it is refreshing to see a girl who is not overly emotional.  I am always amazed with authors who write school stories that teach as well as entertain.  In the course of events, Nora learns about the power of persuasion and I enjoyed reading about the different topics the kids picked.  I am definitely interested in seeing what else Nora gets up to in the future.

Monday, August 15, 2016

MMGM: The Terrible Two Get Worse by Jory John and Mac Barnett


On their own, pranksters Miles and Niles were pretty devious. Now that they’ve formed a pranking duo, they’re terrible! But their powers will be tested when their favorite nemesis, Principal Barkin, is replaced by his stern and cunning father, Former Principal Barkin. Now Miles and Niles will do just about anything to get their old antagonist back—including pranking alongside him.

Authors and friends Mac Barnett and Jory John “are in perfect comic harmony” (Publishers Weekly) in this series that celebrates inventiveness, friendship, and the power of teamwork—for good, or for terrible.


Mac Barnett and Jory John have created another wacky tale of two boys who see themselves as professional pranksters.  But as they continue to plan and pull of pranks, many of which are aimed at their school principal, they come up against a new challenge.  Principal Barkin´s father, the former Principal Barkin, gets his son fired because of the pranking and takes over the school, where he immediately does everything in his power to make everyone´s lives miserable.  And despite several attempts, Niles and Miles are stumped by a man who refuses to be pranked, turning each of their pranks into an ´accident´.  It seems the new (old?) principal has won.  But Niles and Miles refuse to give up though and decide to recruit their former principal into one last attempt to stop Principal Barkin from destroying the school.

One can always trust Mac Barnett to come up with something wacky and this series definitely qualifies.  But considering how popular the first book is in my library, I have no doubt that this one will be as well.  I have to admire the pranks that the characters come up with, although I would wince to see some of them actually brought to pass (limberger cheese in the ventilation system at school, ew, gross).  But the authors have done a great job of creating a villain that the reader wants to hate, he is truly awful and I seriously wanted to tell him off.  I was amused by the twist of Niles and Miles actually recruiting their former obnoxious principal, that was definitely unexpected.  I am definitely curious about where John and Barnett intend to take the story since now their primary foe knows who they are now.  I have no doubt however that wherever the story goes it will be entertaining and full of eye-rolling moments and wacky illustrations that match the tone of the story.

Friday, August 12, 2016

BLOG TOUR: What a Beautiful Morning by Arthur A. Levine


Every morning is beautiful when Noah visits his Grandparents. When Grandpa and Noah wake up, they take off singing and hardly stop: walking the dog, splashing through puddles, and eating French toast with cinnamon.

But one summer Grandpa seems to have forgotten how to do the things they love. Does he even know who Noah is?

Grandma steps in energetically, filling in as best she can. But it is Noah who finds the way back to something he can share with Grandpa. Something musical. Something that makes the morning beautiful again.
This is a story about how love helps us find even what we think is lost.


Okay, I'll admit it, this book brought tears to my eyes.  Probably because it's hard to watch the people we love get older and suddenly things aren't the way they used to be.  This story is about a young boy who loves to spend time with his grandfather singing their way through each beautiful day.  Until the day that his grandfather starts getting confused about things and can't do everything he did before.  It makes Noah sad. But with his grandmother's help and the power of a good song, Noah finds a way to still find the beauty in each day. The softly colored illustrations by Katie Kath make for a gorgeous complement to the sweetness of the story.  As Noah's grandfather gets more confused, the illustrations turn gray, but when Noah finds those beautiful moments the colors come back.  A bittersweet story that beautifully showcases the importance of and power in finding the good the life despite the challenges and changes that come our way.


8/3 MomReadIt
8/11 Bildebok

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WILD & WONDERFUL WORLD: National Geographic Sports books


Do you love sports? Are you excited for the 2016 Olympic games? Here's an activity book that puts you right at the center of the gold-medal action! Fill in the blanks as you and a friend try your best at gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and much more!


National Geographic has created there own version of Mad Libs.  Here there are 22 paragraph long stories related to various aspects of the Olympics.  Each story has blank spaces for the reader to add his or her own words to the story.  Each blank specifies what type of word is needed.  If the reader wishes to play the game on his or her own the opposite page has a place to list words without looking at the story.  I also enjoyed the fact included on each two page spread.  This is a fun way for kids to learn about and enjoy the Olympic games from home.


Everything has its weird side -- even sports! Add wacky stats, facts, and stories to your arsenal of spots trivia with this new slam-dunk addition to the very popular Weird but True series! With the Olympics on the way, discover tons more zany fun, focused totally on the subject of sports! So step up to the plate to get 300 ALL-NEW amazing facts plus photos.


Reading a book like this one both amazes and puzzles me.  First, there are some amazing facts in here. Things such as:

  • Bunnies competing in the rabbit grand national in North Yorkshire, England, are specially trained to leap over hurdles.
  • The odds of picking all the right teams for an NCAA March Madness bracket are about 1 in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000.
  • Most Concrete Patio Blocks Broken by a Single Strike of the elbow? 17
  • Olympic trampoline competitors can soar more than 33 feet in the air--as high as a school bus is long.
But then there are some strange or weird facts included that just make me wonder about the human race.
  • Some hockey fans throw dead fish, octopuses, slabs of beef, and rubber rats onto the ice when their team scores a goal.
  • Some of the first British surfers used coffin lids to ride the waves.
  • In Indonesia, Pacu Jawi Jockeys ride a plow between two running bulls to mud ski across flooded rice fields.
  • You can turn your couch into a bicycle.
And yes, many of these facts have a photograph or illustration to go with it.  That couch bicycle is mind-boggling.  This is the sort of book that children love to browse and marvel at.  And they are not as quick to wonder about people and their sanity.


Become an expert on sports, just in time for the 2016 Olympics! From archery to zip lining this book covers EVERYTHING about the world's favorite team and individual sports. With stunning visuals and energetic, impactful design, readers won't stop until they've learned everything there is to know about the history, rules and regs, training, and practice of dozens of athletic pursuits. Includes popular sports such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, and quirkier sports such as fencing, curling, and table tennis.


 With a fabulous combination of fun facts, definitions, explanations, cool photographs, sidebars, and statistics, National Geographic has created a book that any sport lover would find fascinating, young or old. Being National Geographic there are also maps and interesting information about sports around the world, including locations where certain sports are popular as well as the Olympics.  The diagrams showing the insides of different types of balls was fascinating.  Soccer and tennis balls are hollow, whereas gold, softballs, baseballs, and bowling balls most certainly are not.  Sports covered in two page spreads include: basketball, baseball, hockey, and American football.  The next section of the book focuses on world competitions such as the Pan Am Games, the Olympics, as well as sports that can be especially risky such as parkour, rock climbing, base jumping, motocross, hang gliding, and ultimate fighting.  Halls of fame, sports comparisons, referees, equipment, myths, are all discussed in the last section.  For children who enjoy sports this is a fun browsing book.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



After discovering one morning that she has grown a tiger tail, Anya decides that there is no way she can go to school.  She tries really hard to convince her parents that she can't go to school this way but they just don't understand.  She works hard to get rid of the tail, but nothing solves the problem.  She even fakes being sick but to her dismay her mother lovingly pushes her out the door.  After missing the bus, her father drives her to school.  She fantasizes about joining the circus.  Unfortunately, by the time her daydream is over, she's at school and must face her classmates with her tail.  Luckily, she quickly finds out that maybe her tail isn't so bad and that everyone has unique characteristics.  Boldt has done a hilarious job of presenting a common childhood fear.  The fear of not belonging, not fitting in, shines through, despite the ridiculousness of Anya's situation.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and fun to look at, Anya's facial expressions are especially amusing.  I'm definitely using this one with my students.


Little Rabbit is excited to be heading off for his first day of school.  He's so excited that he takes his favorite toy, Charlie Horse, with him.  Unfortunately, this quickly turns out to be a bad idea as 'Charlie Horse' keeps getting him in trouble.  He encourages Little Rabbit to eat his lunch early, to disrupt story time, make a mess of the cake batter, and getting lost on the nature walk.  Can Little Rabbit find a way back to his class or change Charlie Horse's behavior?  There is so much here that is reminiscent of childhood, especially the blaming someone else for one's own behavior.  I like the idea of using this book to help children learn to take responsibility for their own actions.  But it's also just a cute story on it's own and a great introduction to the idea of school.



Trust Adam Rex to right a story with a building as the main character.  School is newly built and awaiting the first day of school.  When Janitor tells him that children will be coming to fill him up, he isn't sure he likes the idea.  As the day goes by the school deals with children who don't like school and a little girl who doesn't want to be there.  He watches children at lunch and on the playground.  He learns about shapes in kindergarten and is embarrassed when his fire alarm goes off.  Once the day is over though and he has a chance to think about it, he realizes that he does indeed like the children and wants them to come back.  I love the use of perspective here showing the first day of school from a point-of-view that I've never seen in a picture book before.  This is not only a fun book to share on the first day of school, but it's a great book to use in talking about point-of-view.  Robinson's illustrations are adorable and remind me a great deal of the schools I've attended over the years.


My favorite thing about this book is the clever illustrations.  These three-dimensional collages clearly take a great deal of work to create and I appreciate all the cute little details.  The story revolves around Milk's first day at school where she acts a little spoiled but doesn't want to admit it.  Waffle though isn't afraid to point it out.  But she still manages to make friends which shows up when she gets spilled. The use of puns and funny food references makes the story a bit funny while still making a point about the way we treat people.

Monday, August 8, 2016

BLOG TOUR: Accidentally Me by Kim Karras


WANTED: Pretend stalker. No experience required. Tall, dark, and quirky preferred. Sabrina is desperate to go to her dream college, but her parents want her to stay close to home. If she wants to maintain her perfect child image, Sabrina must break rules that even her rebel sister keeps . . .


I wasn't sure what I thought about this book at first. Sabrina kept behaving in ways that seriously annoyed me.  I mean seriously, hiring a stalker to convince your family to let you attend the college of your choice?!  I knew that would turn out badly and it did.  I kept hoping she would start making better choices and then she would make another bad choice.  I did sympathize with her low self-esteem that has skewed her view of not only herself but the way she sees her family and her 'stalker'.  Since she was a surprise for her parents or an 'accident' as she calls herself, she feels like she needs to be perfect  in order to prove her value.  While her relationship (?) with her 'stalker' Calvin turns out not to be a particularly good one (she develops a crush on him, despite clear evidence that he's a bit of a jerk), at the same time he does give her some surprisingly good advice. I guess as an adult, I winced a bit each time Sabrina made another bad choice.  Thankfully by the end she was making better choices and I could sigh with relief.  

Despite the bad choices Sabrina makes, she is still very much a sympathetic character.  After all, who hasn't made bad choices that came back to haunt them.  Human beings seem to shine at learning things the hard way.  And the complicated relationships between Sabrina and her family start to change as she starts to grow up and realize she doesn't have to be perfect in order to be loved.  And I was pleased to note another cute guy makes an appearance who adds some interest to the story.  I think overall this is a story about growing up, learning to make good choices, and accepting the fact that 'accidents' happen but that life can still be great regardless if you're willing to work for it.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: 125 Wacky Roadside Attractions by National Geographic Kids


Going on a road trip? See the silly side of travel as you explore the wackiest landmarks from around the world -- a place where you can walk in real dinosaur tracks, a hotel where you sleep in an igloo, a crazy beard festival, a UFO museum, and so much more. You won't believe our world is full of so many bizarre and wonderful places!


When I picked this book up, I was definitely curious about what I would be reading about in the book.  I was not at all disappointed.  I had no idea that there were so many interesting and strange places in the world.  Everything from special events (international air balloon festival) to works of art (turtle built out of tire rims) to hotels (tree houses, dog shaped hotel, or snow hotel) are all mentioned in this book.  This is the sort of browsing book that children really get a kick out of because it´s so full of oddities.  While most of the places/items are located in the United States there are items/places included from all over the world.  Places such as Hungary (International Pillow Fight Day), Germany (Tiger and Turtle--Magic Mountain--most unusual staircase I´ve ever seen), France (Paris Sewer Museum) are included.  This makes for some fun reading for young and old.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016



$29.99 Hardcover Personalized Book

Fancy Nancy, hostess extraordinaire, can’t wait to share her party-planning expertise with your little one! From recipes and crafts to etiquette tips and French lessons, this precious personalized book contains everything your child needs to throw the perfect tea party. A personalized letter from Nancy herself to your fancy kiddo? Oui! Plus, your child’s name is worked into the text and adorable illustrations throughout the book. Wrap up with a set of recipe cards from the Kitchen of Fancy Nancy, and best of all, cut out and frame the certificate declaring your child a graduate of Fancy Nancy’s Tea Party Course! Que magnifique!


Any Fancy Nancy loving fan is bound to enjoy this guide to hosting a fabulously fancy tea party.  The book has been personalized by addressing the child directly as well as the giver of the book.  A photo of the child is included at the beginning of the book.  This book is not a story however, it gives tips for hosting a great little tea party.  Tips include ideas for ensembles, etiquette, fancy words, decorations, games, as well as ideas for different types of tea parties (formal vs. buffet, etc.).  A lot of the ideas are simple enough to be easy to implement and use and the Fancy Nancy illustrations are as appealing as ever.  A great gift for young Fancy Nancy lovers with lots of fun ideas.


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Fancy Nancy Tea Party Kit Includes:

· Personalized copy of Fancy Nancy Tea Parties

· Personlized TuTu Basket

· Feather Boa

· Children’s Tea Set

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