Tuesday, June 20, 2017



A very little bulldozer learns that taking care of kittens is a very big job in this follow-up to Bulldozer’s Big Day .

The construction site bustled.
Cement Truck was stirring…stirring…stirring.
Digger Truck was scooping…scooping…scooping.
Crane Truck was lifting…lifting…lifting.
And Bulldozer was—watching…watching…watching.

Little Bulldozer wants to help, but all the bigger trucks say he is too small. So when Crane Truck says he can clear a bit of debris out of the way, Little Bulldozer is eager for the job. He can do it, yes he can. What he doesn’t expect is to find a family of newborn kittens living in the pile of debris! Can he take care of babies? Now that’s a tough job. A job that happens to be just the right size for Little Bulldozer.


I figured this book would be cute.  After all it's by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.  And that smiling little bulldozer on the cover is pretty irresistible.  I thought going in that this was going to be a story about someone little being perfectly capable of helping out the bigger machines.  That isn't a particularly new story line for the preschool crowd.  But I was delightfully surprised to discover that this book took the little helping big storyline to a different place.  After little Bulldozer manages to convince the big construction machines that he can help out, he gets to work.  But the big machines are shocked when they discover that he hasn't done what they asked.  Did Bulldozer not follow through or did he find something more important?  Fleming and Rohmann have created a delightful book with gorgeous illustrations and a sweet story about priorities.  This is one I plan to use for story time.


Laurie Berkner, “the queen of children’s music,” (People) pairs the lyrics of her beloved hit with Ben Clanton’s whimsical illustrations in this winning, adorable picture book—a must-have for fans of Laurie, dinosaurs, and all things cute.

We are the dinosaurs
Marching, marching
We are the dinosaurs

Laurie Berkner’s chart-topping, beloved hit “We Are the Dinosaurs” is now a picture book! Featuring an adorable cast of characters and vibrant, playful art by Ben Clanton, We Are the Dinosaurs transports readers back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.



This book is bound to be a favorite for all dinosaur loving preschoolers.  The illustrations are bright, colorful, and very engaging.  The adventure that the dinosaur friends go on is fun and exciting (picnic on a mountain--volcano).  The main text is made up of the words to Laurie Berkner's song, "We Are the Dinosaurs".  For a story time, it would work well to teach the students the words to the song by reading through the book first, then having the students chant (or sing with the recording) as you repeat the book a second time.  The commentary included with the art adds further opportunities to interact.  I could even see myself having the students (or children in the case of a public library) getting up and marching behind you as you lead them on an adventure.  Loads of fun to be had with this book.


After a trip to the museum, Max writes a letter to his favorite dinosaur, the mighty T. Rex - and the T. Rex writes back! As Max and T. Rex learn about each other's lives, a very unusual friendship develops in this funny and touching story from an award-winning duo. Dinosaur fans will love this interactive picture book with letters and cards to open, and dinosaur facts to discover along the way.


I found this to be a delightfully fun book.  Not only are the illustrations colorful and fun, but there are actual letters (and a postcard) for the reader to open and read (glued to the page).  I read this with my young nephew and he enjoyed it, in addition, his older brother came over and had a peak as we read (not to mention taking the book to read on his own afterwards).  Max is thrilled when he gets the chance to visit the dinosaur room at a museum, but is frustrated when there isn't time to ask as many questions as he wants. Dinosaur Dora, the museum guide, tells him to write letters to T. Rex, because she's sure that T. Rex will write back.  And so begins an amusing correspondence.  Not only is the book fun in and of itself but there are many opportunities here for extension activities (writing a letter, anyone?).


Enchanted prince or just a plain old frog? Pucker up, princesses! Theres only one way to find out.

Fairy tales are just stories, or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they're convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that's what happens in their story books. Martha isn't so sure. The more she sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, Martha sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that just because it's in a book doesn't mean it's true. But before The End, Princess Martha might just learn that lesson for herself!


I've become a big fan of fractured fairy tales.  There seem to be more and more of them, which is not a bad thing, after all, fairy tales have been around for a long, long time.  But as with most things, some fractured fairy tales are better than others.  And I love this one.  Not only have Emmett and Bernatene created a delightful story in and of itself, the book also points out that 'just because it's in a book doesn't mean it's true" which is something that I struggle to help the children I teach understand (especially when it comes to the Internet).  In this story, a clever frog steps up and tricks Princess Martha's sisters into believing that he is a prince who's been cursed.  But as the two older princesses spoil the frog rotten, Princess Martha becomes suspicious.  She sets out to prove to her sisters that the frog is nothing more than a frog, but they refuse to believe the facts she presents them from her factual books.  But when she turns to fairy tales (which she has never read before) she finds enjoyment as well as the answer to her conundrum.  And the ending?  Well, I don't want to give it away, but it did make me laugh out loud. ;)

Monday, June 12, 2017

MMGM: FUNNY GIRL edited by Betsy Bird


Sharyn Novbember at Viking has acquired Funny Girl, a humor anthology for girls ages 9-12, curated by Betsy Bird and featuring short stories, personal essays, comics, and poetry from nearly 30 female writers, including Lisa Graff, Cece Bell, Jenni Holm, Shannon Hale, and Rita Williams-Garcia. A portion of the proceeds will support WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization for teen girls. 


As with most short story collections that I've read, the quality of the stories varied.  I enjoyed some of the stories a lot more than others.  Some I found rather odd such as A Most Serious Recitation of the Poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer, Rendered Most Seriously (and with the utmost care) By The Hand of Cece Bell with a pasted in picture of Benjamin Franklin debating with a pig, amusing but really odd.  There were several stories that were quite informative (sort of) such as How to Tell a Joke by Delaney Yeager and Mackenzie Yeager or Brown Girl Pop Quiz: All of the Above by Mitali Perkins.

My favorite stories were In Which Young Raina Learns a Lesson by Raina Telgemeier, which revolves around young Raina's unfortunate (but hilarious) encounter with a bee.  Also, Dear Grandpa: Give Me Money by Allison DeCamp and One Hot Mess by Carmen Agra Deedy left me with sore ribs from laughing so hard.  In the Dear Grandpa story, a young girl writes letters to her grandpa demanding money and her grandfather writes back.  In One Hot Mess, a young Cuban American girl explains why her mother always sets the tub on fire when they move into a new place.

A couple of stories may concern some adults/young readers because of the topics, but are funny because of the truth they contain.  The first such story is Over and Out by Lisa Graff which revolves around Riley's attempts to rescue her sister's fancy bra from a toilet tragedy which could result in her demise.  A Public Service Announcement About Your Period from Sarah T. Wrigley, Age 12 3/4 by Libby Bray presents the advice of a young person about getting one's period which is irreverent but funny.

Other stories include a brief appearance from Babymouse (Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm) as well as an amusing presentation of the Chinese Zodiac.  Some stories cover only a couple of pages, others a dozen pages.

The stories also vary in presentation, with most of the stories being regular prose, but others being in comic format, and still others combining text and illustration.  I think what I enjoyed most about the book was the clear message that girls can be funny and let their senses of humor shine.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Two Truths and a Lie by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson


Two Truths and a Lie is the first book in a fascinating new series that presents some of the most crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true—and asks readers to separate facts from the fakes!

Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

Acclaimed authors Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson have teamed up to create a series of sneaky stories about the natural world designed to amaze, disgust, and occasionally bamboozle you.


Ammi-Joan Paquette has traveled to twenty-four countries, has the ability to wake herself up at a given time without an alarm clock, and once climbed Mt. Everest. (Not all of these are true!) Joan is the author of the novels Rules for Ghosting, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl, as well as the picture books Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, Ghost in the House, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, and The Tiptoes Guide to Tracking Fairies. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson has ridden a pig, gotten stuck in an elevator overnight, and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. (One of these facts is not true; can you guess which?) She is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, My Dog Is the Best, and Emmanuel's Dream, a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book, a CCBC Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, among dozens of other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family. You can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com.


Two Truths and a Lie takes an interesting approach to presenting information.  The book is divided into three parts: plants, animals, and humans. Each part is then divided into chapters which are further divided into three sections.  Each section describes something related to the topic.  But there's a catch, one of the three sections in each chapter is false (a lie) while the other two are true.  To make things even trickier, the section that's a lie may still contain elements that are true.  (I'm not going to give specific examples because I don't want to spoil the fun.)  Not only are the pieces of information fascinating but it's very engaging to try to figure out what is true and what is not. And while the end of the book contains the answers as well as references and an index, it feels like cheating to peak before making an educated guess.  And the authors actively encourage readers to look for the answers themselves.  Not only is this a great book for pure entertainment, it's also a great resource for librarians/teachers/parents who want to help their children learn to verify information before accepting everything they see/hear/read as truth.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea/Skip through the Seasons


Discover amazing and fascinating sea creatures as you go on a madcap journey through the world of the hole in the bottom of the sea! Based on a traditional cumulative song, each verse introduces a new creature and its place in the food chain, as the shark chases the eel, who chases the squid, who chases the snail... Enhanced CD includes video animation and audio singalong.


I have used several of Barefoot Books book/CD combinations with my kindergartners and they've been a hit every time.  I used this one with a sea life theme and I had have the class singing along before the book was halfway done.  The illustrations are bright and colorful with large font text, perfect for using as a read-a-loud.  Not only is the song a fun, catchy one but it makes for a great introduction to topics related to the ocean and sea life.  At the back of the book, additional information is provided about the food chain that is depicted in the song as well as blue holes (real holes found at the bottom of the sea).  A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea makes for both a great learning experience and a delightfully entertaining one.


This action-packed seek-and-find book takes young readers on an outdoor adventure through the changing months of the year. Each month is presented with a detailed, full-color scene with an exciting array of seasonal items to look for.


Not only does Skip through the Seasons introduce the seasons and the months, but it's also a search and find book with a list of things for children to look for in the illustrations.  This is a great way for children to practice their visual literacy skills, and its fun to see what you can find.  Somehow it's quite satisfying to find everything on the list.  Each list focuses on items specific to the season and the month which helps create connections in children's minds.  At the end of the book is additional information about different calendars, where the month names came from, the source of the seasons, and the days of the week in six different languages. This book is both fun and educational.

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