Friday, November 16, 2018

Elmore by Holly Hobbie

Emore Has A Rather Sticky Problem

Elmore is mostly happy living alone in an ancient maple tree.
"Every few days he would climb down the huge tree trunk as darkness fell to graze on his favorite leaves and twigs. Then back he would go to his snug hollow in the ancient tree."
At times, however, he feels a bit lonely and bored.

So one day he posts a sign on his tree trunk asking for friends. But he overhears:
"He's too prickly. It's hard to be around him."
Elmore has to admit that if animals get too close to him they might get pricked by one of his quills, but he never intends that to happen. When Elmore talks to his uncle about this problem, he is told to treasure his quills, they are a part of who he is.

But that advice doesn't help his situation, or does it?

The soft-colored illustrations complement the story beautifully.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most:  The illustrations and words make this a soothing, quiet story for bedtime. I loved the fact that Elmore didn't make himself a victim, but rather went into a problem-solving mode.

Author/Illustrator: Holly Hobbie
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 2018)

Approx. Word Count: 490

Pages: 40

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cooking With The Grinch by Tish Rabe

What Are Grinch and Cindy-Lou Up To?

The Grinch hears bells ringing and the Whos singing as he heads to town to do some cooking with Cindy-Lou Who.
"He likes to mix.
She likes to stir.
She cooks with him.
He cooks with her."
But when Max, the dog, happens by he is quickly shooed out the door. Finally, the treats are cooked and on a plate, but what have Grinch and Cindy-Lou whipped up?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: Though the story doesn't have many words and there is lots of repetition, Tish Rabe and Tom Brannon manages to present a fun story that kids will enjoy.

Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Tom Brannon
Publisher: Random House For Young Readers (September 2017)

Approx. Word Count: 131
*ATOS Book Level:  .8
**Step 1 Reading Book
Pages: 32

* What is ATOS Book Level?

ATOS Book Levels use the ATOS readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. For instance, a book level of 1.5 means the text could likely be read independently by a student whose reading skills are at the level of a typical first grader during the fifth month of school. 
 **Step 1 Ready to Read Books
  • Books with large type and easy words. 
  • Picture Clues
  • Rhyme & Rhythm

Safari Science
Mini scientists will learn about the different types of safari habitats through scratch art boards and safari stencils, create their own set of safari animal tracking ID cards, explore animal migration with an animal tracking kit, and discover the dangers of quicksand by mixing up a real quicksand pit and "rescuing" African animals from it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Super Simple Thanksgiving Activities by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

9 Thanksgiving Projects For Kids

There is a short introduction to Thanksgiving, a list of materials needed for the activities, then 9 chapters of fun holiday projects in this short 32-page book. The step by step instructions, complete with illustrations are for a
  • Thumbprint Turkey Card,
  • Thanksgiving Garland,
  • Turkey Treats, Goofy Gobbler Charades,
  • Gratitude Wreath,
  • Autumn Glow Jar,
  • Colorful Corn Bouquet, Yarn Napkin Rings, and
  • Plump Paper Pumpkin.
There are two Key Symbols: One of a flame, indicating that the project requires the use of a stove or oven. The other is a symbol of a peanut, which means the project includes the use of nuts.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: All of the crafts require very little in the way of materials, are not complicated, and look nice.

Author: Megan Borgert-Spaniol
Publisher: Super Sandcastle (December 2017)

Elf In The House by Ammi-Joan Paquette

It's Christmas Eve And Something Odd Is Happening

A small girl is in bed on Christmas Eve when she hears a 
She goes downstairs to investigate and immediately notices that the snack she's left for Santa is nearly gone except for crumbs, which she follows down a hallway. When she hears a squeak she turns to see a mouse who is holding a piece of cookie. He decides to follow her. The two soon discover an elf. The three travel throughout the house adding a reindeer and Santa to the line.

So the five settle down on a Christmas Eve.
"Sharing treats as the night slips away."

My Thoughts 

What Concerned Me: I have to admit that the title egged me on to read this book. In fact, I was excited to write a review . . . until I read it. Unfortunately, the title doesn't really have any more to do with the story than Santa, Mouse, and Reindeer. The elf is just enjoying Christmas Eve with the lonely little girl who apparently needs cheering up. 

What I Liked Most: If you're looking for a book about friendship, not necessarily an elf story, this book will work.

Author: Ammi-Joan Paquette
Illustrator: Adam Record
PublisherCandlewick (September 2017)
Mail I Hate To Deliver, But This Story Needs Some First Aid

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Monday, November 12, 2018

A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker

Who's Coming To Bear's First Christmas Party?

Bear has never had a real Christmas so he’s decided to host his first Christmas party in this sixth Bear and Mouse book. It turns out his party consists of inviting Mouse. Bear has planned the party with food and even a special reading of a poem. However, Mouse is preoccupied with searching for his present since there isn’t one under the tree. 

Every time bear comes back from the kitchen with some food he’s prepared for the celebration, Mouse is off searching under the bed and in closets for his gift. 

Bear's patience is tested. Will Mouse ruin Christmas?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing.

What I Liked Most: Such a fun book to share with kids. And the illustrations show the emotions both Bear and Mouse are experiencing and add greatly to an already good story.

This would be a great addition to a child's library.

Illustrations: Kady MacDonald Denton
Published by Candlewick Press, 2017

Approx Words: 704
Ages: 5 - 9
Pages: 48

    Saturday, November 10, 2018

    What Can You Do With A Toolbox? by Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri

    This Group Seems Ready For Show-And-Tell

    Authors Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri are known as The Cousins. They both have loved design and constructions for many years, which has no doubt been a big factor in their hit shows on HGTV.

    In this book, the men start out by introducing some children to safety equipment and the need to have adult supervision when using tools. The kids are then shown various tools including a wrench, bolts, a shovel, a screwdriver, a tape measure, a level, a hammer and nails, a saw, a drill, ladder, and paintbrushes as they are being used.

    The final spread shows what the men were building.

    My Thoughts

    What Concerned Me: Perhaps these things will be trivial to some, but first, I was concerned that the title of the book doesn't really correlate with many of the things that the men were showing the children: ladder, paintbrushes, a level, etc. 

    Secondly, the descriptions weren't much:
    "This is a wrench. We use a wrench to turn a nut." 
    The illustration shows a man holding a wrench over a nut on a swing set while a child is swinging.

    "We use a wrench and nuts and bolts to assemble the swing set."
    So what's a bolt? Nothing shows or explains that.

    While there is a squirrel holding a screwdriver the text is:
    "This is a screwdriver. A screwdriver turns a screw to fasten the cargo net."
    We see kids climbing on the net, but no explanation where the screw is or how the screwdriver really works.

    We see a man holding a drill but the reading really doesn't show how it works or where it has been used.

    There are other explanations of tools that feel close to correct, but not clear either. While I was prepared to really like this book, it didn't completely work for me.

    What I Liked Most: I really like the idea of learning about tools and the fact that safety was addressed.
    Authors: Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri
    3 STARS
    Illustrator: Maple Lam
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers/Paula Wiseman Books (August 2018)
    Approx. Word Count: 267
    Ages: 4 - 8
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    Friday, November 9, 2018

    Mouse Loves Fall by Lauren Thompson

    Can You Guess Why Mouse and Minka Like Fall?

    On a cool fall day Mouse and his sister, Minka, come out to play in the leaves. They see red, yellow, orange and brown leaves. They then name the shapes they see: round, skinny, pointy and smooth leaves. They gather the leaves and run, skip, kick, and swish the leaves. Counting leaves as they stack them, they then leap, jump, plop and roll in the leaves. 

    My Thoughts

    What Concerned Me: First, and most noticeable to me was the very dark artwork. The page examples on the Internet don't seem to convey the same, extremely blah colors. If the pictures would support the text, I would have been much happier.

    Secondly, this feels like there is no story and the ending is quite abrupt. I don't think the attempt to use counting, colors, and shapes make up for poor illustrations and text.

    What I Liked Most: I guess if counting, colors, and shapes are important to the reader this book does that well.

    Author: Lauren Thompson
    Illustrator: Buket Erdogan
    Publisher: Simon Spotlight, Simon & Schuster (August 2018)
    1 STAR - Mail I Hate To Deliver, Story Needs Some First Aid

    Ages: 3 - 5
    Pages: 32
    Level: Pre-Level One

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Fox the Tiger by Corey R. Tabor

    Can A Fox Really Be A Tiger?

    The first illustration shows Fox reading a book about tigers.
    "I wish I were a tiger," says Fox."
    Now, why would a fox want to be a tiger? Well, tigers are big, fast, sneaky, and the best!
    So what's a fox to do? Perhaps find a way to look like a tiger! Maybe a little paint will help?

    But when fox meets Turtle and tries to appear ferocious it doesn't quite work out.
    "Hello, Fox," says Turtle."
    Fox tries to tell Turtle that he isn't Fox. He's a Tiger.
    Turtle assumes two can play this game. When he returns he has a surprise for Fox. He too has found some paint.
    "I am not Turtle. I am Race Car," says Race Car." 
    By now Rabbit has happened upon the scene.
    "Wait here," says Rabbit.
    Oh, oh, what's Rabbit up to?

    My Thoughts

    What Concerned Me: Nothing

    What I Liked Most: Using very few words, many repetitive, this is a really cute first reader. Both the text and illustrations are entertaining and as a plus, there is a small but great message included.

    Author/Illustrator: Corey R. Tabor
    Publisher: Balzer & Bray  (Aug. 2018)
    5 STARS
    Ages: 4 - 8
    Pages: 32
    Level: I Can Read! My First Reading (Pre-Level 1) Ideal for emergent readers.

    Memphis, Martin, And The Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan

    The Sanitation Strike Of 1968

    This story is told through the eyes of 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who recounts her days as a child during the days of the Memphis Sanitation Strike. She also relates how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became involved in the strike and that he was murdered as he stood on his balcony at the Memphis motel.

    The story is broken up into small segments with headings. It begins with sanitation workers (who are mostly black) and their unhappiness with the poor working conditions and unsafe equipment.
    "Several Memphis garbage trucks were old and unsafe. The trucks were not maintained.
    According to my daddy, a packer blade malfunctioned, crushing his friends.
     Daddy told Mama, "It ain't right to die like that."

    And with those deaths began the unrest over their treatment, lack of decent wages, poor equipment, and the feeling that no one would take their concerns seriously.
    "When they could take the abuse no more, 1,300 men deserted their garbage barrels. They organized a labor strike on February 12,1968."
    The struggle continues even after Dr. King is killed. His wife, Coretta Scott King, flies to Memphis, committed to continuing her husband's work helping the sanitation strike with a nonviolent march.

    The back page of the book has a timeline that is very helpful.

    My Thoughts

    What Concerned Me: Though many of the illustrations were quite good, some looked ill-proportioned.

    I also wasn't a fan of the title. One, it's wordy and hard to remember. Two, The Sanitation Strike takes back seat to the title.

    What I Liked Most: The story is broken up into small segments that make it very child-friendly and easy to comprehend.

    Author: Alice Faye Duncan
    Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
    Publisher: Calkins Creek; Illustrated edition (August 2018)

    *ATOS Book Level:4.9
    • Approx. Word Count: 3060
    • Ages: 8 - 12
    • Pages: 40

    * What is ATOS Book Level?
    ATOS Book Levels use the ATOS readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. For instance, a book level of 4.9 means the text could likely be read independently by a student whose reading skills are at the level of a typical fourth grader during the ninth month of school. 

    For All Your Sports 

    Tuesday, November 6, 2018

    Cinderella And The Furry Slippers by Davide Cali

    Cinderella With A Feminist Twist

    Seeing a picture of the Prince in a magazine prompts Cinderella to want to go to the ball, meet the Prince, and have a fairy-tale ending. She calls a Fairy Godmother to help dress her since she has nothing appropriate to wear. But what she ends up with isn't the dress of her dreams.

    Unlike the story we are used to, her carriage is a turnip with a variety of strange animals pulling it. And even the castle is not what Cinderella imagined.

    Furry slippers and all (the Fairy Godmother did a stellar job of dressing Cinderella), she enters the castle only to find that it is a dance competition and the winner gets to dance with the Prince. 

    Cinderella's dancing is quite different (not in a good way) but she ends up winning. Quickly she sees that the Prince is not her type, so she dashes from the ball.

    *Spoiler Alert"
    Cinderella has to walk home since her turnip coach is nowhere to be found. On the way home, she sees a sign offering women career opportunities. So she decides to create her own ending to the story.

    My Thoughts

    What Concerned Me: 
    1. The dancing, fashion, coach, and animals were fun, but I wonder if they were intended to be a message that those things were all a bit too "feminine."
    2. Cinderella's immediate dislike for the Prince appeared to be nothing more than his bad breath.
    3. One of the signs at the Job Fair is, 
    "Sick of lame princes? Sick of fancy pink dresses? Want to do something fun for once?"
    Now perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but pink and dresses and believing in love and a Prince can be a fun fantasy for girls. In my opinion, kids need to be kids for a few years.

    I do agree with the fact that people, both men and women, should not sit back and wait helplessly for their future to unwind, but rather take an active role in shaping their future. But this book felt more adult based, with an adult message.

    What I Liked Most:

     I especially liked the illustration of the coach and animals pulling it.

    I do think with some guidance that this book can be used as a positive tool to help empower both boys and girls.

    3 STARS
    Author: Davide Cali
    Illustrator: Raphaelle Barbanegre
    Publisher: Tundra Books (October 2017)
    Ages: 3 - 7
    Pages: 32 Tops 10% OFF $89+