Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Written and illustrated by Kelly Barnhill

Algonquin Young Readers, 2016


This fantasy fiction is about a little girl who was sacrificed as a baby to the evil witch in the swamp so that those in the Protectorate could be spared the wrath of this legendary witch. She ends up being raised by a benevolent threesome including a swamp monster, a witch and a tiny dragon. This little girl is adored and nurtured as she grows into her own magic which will eventually help lift an evil spell cast over her village. 


Each chapter is told from the perspective of a rich tapestry of characters in this book. Winner of the 2016 Newberry Medal, this story is captivating and beautifully written with suspense and good humor along the way.


There is a little something in this book for all readers of any age from magic and sorcery to intrigue and creativity. 



Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White


Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2016), Ages 8-12

This is a biography about E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. We learn how his travels and life long love of the Maine woods shaped his literary career from being a regular contributor to The New Yorker to becoming an accidental author of some of the most beloved books for young readers.


Caldecott honor winner, Melissa Sweet weaves together a magical book full of White's original typewritten manuscripts with penned edits along with photos and her own illustrations depicting the author's work and life.

Sweet's original illustrations in this book are perfect. A combination of her drawings and watercolors compliment the text and the primary source material she carefully selects to make readers want to take their time with this book.

This book made me want to dig deeper into the life and writings of E.B. White. I especially want to read some of his earlier pieces in The New Yorker. The care that Sweet took with the illustrations in this book makes me want to have a copy of my own on my bookshelf at home. 

Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Monday, May 22, 2017

Con Academy

                                                          
Con Academy

Written by: Joe Schrieber

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (2015), Ages 10-16

At the heart of this story is an intricate web of one con act after another. But there are greater issues of morals and values at play here. Will Shea is the main character and the primary con man who scammed his way into an elite prep school only to run into quite a few other clever con artists along the way. This story has it all--intrigue, cleverness, a tad bit of romance.

Character development is a particular strength of this author. Some characters are likeable whiles others are definitely not! Because Schrieber develops his characters so well, it is easy to begin thinking of which actors might play these different characters if this story were made into a movie.

This was quick read and a real page turner. It reminded me of Ocean's Eleven of Catch Me if You Can.


Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Written by Steve Sheinkin 


Roaring Book Press (2015), Ages 10-14 

This is the story of Daniel Ellsberg, a government analyst and Washington insider during the Johnson and Nixon administrations who some would claim was a traitor of the United States and others would say was the American people’s most important watch dog of democracy. His claim to fame is that he leaked decades of government secrets, known as the Pentagon Papers, to the Press which ultimately led to the end of Nixon’s presidency and the conclusion of the United States involvement in Vietnam. 

Sheinkin knits together the key details of this complex time in American history in a way that makes this book a page turner. Photographs from the press interspersed throughout personalize Ellsberg and important government figures of the time. 

Complete with many references, this book will inspire more in depth research into primary sources such as an exploration of the articles that hit the headlines of major newspapers around the country once Ellsberg leaked the contents of the Pentagon Papers. Recipient of the Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction by YALSA-ALA for this book, Sheinkin does a masterful job of telling this complex story in such a way that would appeal to even the most reluctant non-fiction reader. 

Review by Colleen Boff

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box


Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box 

Written by David McPhail 

Henry Holt and Company, LLC (2015), Ages 3-10

This story is a semi-biographical story about the author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter. As a young girl she was given her mother's paint box. She instantly fell in love with creating and painted small pictures where ever she went. As she grew older, she continued to paint and one day she heard of a friend's son who had fallen ill. In order to cheer him up, she wrote him a story in a letter and after much convincing from her friend, she eventually made it into a book. "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" quickly became a best seller and Beatrix went on to write several other beautifully illustrated children's books. 

The author's style is very simplistic. There is no more than five sentences per page and each sentence is written using very basic language. The chronological order of events flows seamlessly from page to page and there are no major jumps or missing pieces in the story. The constant theme of painting or the paint box on each page gives the writing style a very cohesive flow throughout the story. 

The illustrations are beautiful watercolor-like paintings. The light washes of color are very similar to Beatrix Potter's painting style. They are simplistic scenes depicting the action being described in the text on the opposite page. The sketchy lines and light washes of color gives the illustrations a light, nostalgic, whimsical feel. 

I loved this book! I thought it was adorable and would be a fantastic way to introduce the idea of an author/illustrator or biography to students. Being an art teacher, I would use this book at an elementary level to introduce a new lesson. I would collaborate with the classroom teacher in having the students learn about authors/illustrators and specifically Beatrix Potter and "The Tales of Peter Rabbit". I think that it would be a great connection between art and English but could be used at a general classroom level as well. I would highly recommend this book to any one trying to introduce the ideas of biographies or Beatrix Potter to younger children. 

 Review by Sara Andrews 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Little One

Little One

Written and illustrated by Jo Weaver

Peachtree Publishers (2016) Ages 3-5

This story is about a mother bear and her cub going through the different seasons and doing what bears do: eating berries, going through the woods, swimming, fishing, and playing.  Big Bear (the mom) is teaching her little one (the cub) all of these things as they leave their den and go exploring.

Weaver uses lots of adjectives throughout the story, such as gentle, restless, blustery. and long.  This story is written with gentle words.  It is a calming book to read.  Examples of this are-"She led her cub to the forest, where the new life was stirring among the trees." and "Together they explored far and wide."



This book has beautiful black and white pastel and graphite pictures.  The illustration that stood out to me the most for this books was of Big Bear and Little One in a grassy area and Little One is on top of Big Bear looking at and smelling the bees.  This picture really helps to define the illustrations of the book.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone.  The illustrations are amazing and this is a great book to teach kids about what a bear goes through when spring is here and what they do before winter comes.  The story is mean for early childhood students, ages 3-5.

Review by Brooke M.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Builder Mouse

Builder Mouse 

Written and Illustrated by Sofia Eldarova 

Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2016], Ages 3-6


This is a story about two mice who are friends, Edgar and Toby. Edgar loves to build things out of leftovers and Toby will always eat what Edgar built.  Edgar goes off to find a new friend who will appreciate his talents.

The author uses lots of adjectives to describe what is happening throughout the story.

The illustrations of this book are done in watercolor, pastel, and pencil.  They are bright and colorful pictures and they go along with the plot of the story.

I really enjoyed this book! It had a cute storyline and I would 100% recommend this book to others.  This is a great book that shows what friendship is really all about and would be appropriate to read with preschoolers and kindergartners.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Best Friends for Never

Best Friends for Never

Written by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Scholastic Press, 2016, Ages 12+

After Hattie and her three best friends watch one of their classmates publicly get de-friended in the school cafeteria.  Hattie and her friends make a loyalty pact promising each other that they will not mistreat each other.  But, Hattie unwittingly breaks the pact, her friends start to ignore her.  In fact, they literally do not even know who she is anymore.  Can Hattie figure out what to do in order to make things right again?  This is a story of loyalty and friendship and Vrettos brings poignancy and gentle humor to this story.

There is quite a bit of repetition throughout the book.  Repetition is always good because is indicates importance.  For example, "Forgotten, Promised, Forgotten, Promised" (p. 85) and "Break the Jinx, Break the Jinx, Break the Jinx" (p. 145).  This second phrase is used a lot throughout the book.  The author uses lots of descriptive words to describe the friendships and events that happen throughout the book.

There are no illustrations in the book, but there are pictures on the front and back covers.  The front cover has bright colors with three teen girls wearing the same shirt and one teen girl wearing a different shirt.  They are standing in grass with the title of the gook in girly colors: pink, purple, and white.  The back cover is a picture of four teen girl's shoes with a quote in girly colors: pin purple, and white.

I would recommend this book, it talks about friendship, which is one of the main things we all have in our lives.  I would say this book is for young adolescents ages 12 and up.

Reviewed by Brooke M.

Women who changed the world: 50 Amazing Americans

Women who changed the world: 50 Amazing Americans

Written by Laurie Calkhoven, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Scholastic Inc., 2016, Ages 10+

This story is about the real lives of women who have been empowering and inspirational to women throughout the United States.  Fifty women are discussed who have changed our nation for the better by making progress for women all over the country.  In the past, women have not had the right to vote, own their own property, or even be expected to excel in their education.  These women discussed in the book have overcome the odds by speaking out and even risking their own lives to prove the point that women should be equal to men and should have equal opportunities.  Some women discussed in this book include Pocahontas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lucille Ball, and Maya Angelou.

The author's writing style is right to the point and very factual.  However, the tone of the book reflects positivity.  The personality and the voice of the book make the book very pleasurable to read.  It focuses on uplifting women.

The illustrations of this book are fun to look at because they resemble actual people (the people discussed in the book), but they look like cartoon characters.  They are colorful and show the bodily expressions that the people would be likely to portray in real life.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  There were so many amazing stories shared about all of these women, and I think other women would really enjoy reading this book.  The women talked about have so many different qualities about them that make them inspirational whether it's their athletic ability, their ability to get politically involved, or their ability to think outside of the box.  This book would most likely be enjoyed by girls just starting their teen years and older because they are just starting to learn about their roles in this world.  This book is appreciative towards women fighting for equality.

Reviewed by Ciara G.

Melissa's Octopus and other Unsuitable Pets

Melissa's Octopus and other Unsuitable Pets

Written and Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Candlewick Press, 2015, Ages 3-6

Melissa, Thomas, Betty, and Arthur all have this one thing in common: they all have unsuitable pets!  All of the pets described in this story are unusual because they are too big, too messy, too free-spirited, and tend to be able to break things such as tables, ceilings, and even floors.  They are all unusual pets to have unlike having a cat or a dog as usual pet would see.

This picture books uses humor throughout the book and her words go along with the pictures so you can see a visual representation of all of the words.

The illustrations go along with all of the words of the story.  They are also bright and colorful watercolor illustrations.  The artwork will make reading this story very enjoyable because of their bright colors and shape & size.

I thought this book was very cute to use in an early childhood classroom.  I would definitely recommend this book to other because you can easily use this story in your classroom and make a whole lesson on what animals are good and not good to be pets?  You can even turn this lesson into a unit on animals and pets in general.  I would say this book would be good for ages 3-6 in an early childhood classroom.

Reviewed by Brooke M.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Specs for Rex

Specs for Rex

Written and illustrated by Yasmin Ismail

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014, Ages 4-8

This book is about Rex who has new glasses. He hates his glasses with a passion so he tries to hide them in the weirdest places. Throughout the book it talks about the different hiding places. After awhile his glasses earn him a big gold star and that makes Rex think twice about his glasses. 

The author uses short sentences that attract the younger audience. 

The illustrations are a watercolor and the colors the author uses are a red and a yellow. These colors pop off the white background and it is fun and interesting to the eye. 

I found this book very good. It shows the audience that being different is a good thing. Growing up with glasses I related to this book because I also hated my glasses. I thought everyone was judging me by the way I looked. This is a very good book to read to a class of diverse children. I would really recommend this book to many teachers. 

Reviewed by Kelsey C.

Specs for Rex

Specs for Rex

Written and illustrated by Yasmin Ismail

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014, Ages 4-8

The story is about a little lion named Rex who gets a new pair of glasses or specs as they call them. Rex doesn't like his new specs and is going to do anything not to wear them. He tried to hid them in the cereal, or put his hair over his face so nobody could see them. Rex was trying anything to make sure nobody could see them. He just really didn't want the others at school to see him in his new specs. But, then he realized his new specs might not be so bad after all. Once he found Miss Spots whistle, and he earned a gold star he started to like his new specs. He then realized wearing his specs was the good thing to do. 

The author's writing style was very easy to read. She used nice and simple words that would make it easy for younger readers. She also used fun descriptive words that younger children would both enjoy hearing and reading. The descriptive words made the story more interesting to read. As well as the rhyme words, like Rex and specs were both fun to say throughout the story. 

The illustrations definitely enhanced the story and made it better to read. Seeing Rex with paint all over his new specs, or with a trash can on his head are what the children are going to want to see and they are going to enjoy seeing. It looks as if the illustrations were painted in watercolor, with some fine colored pencils mixed in. The illustrations were great to look at and helped the story continue along. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. From the cover of the book I didn't think I would like it. But, after reading it, it was a good book. I would recommend this to others, especially parents or teachers with children who are getting new glasses. This could be a good transition book for them and help them be more comfortable with their new specs. This is definitely a book I would put into my future classroom. 

Reviewed by Morgan Dyke

Pig Kahuna Who’s That PIG?

Pig Kahuna Who’s That PIG? 

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler

Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2015, Ages 3-6

This picture book is about two brother pigs enjoying a normal day on the beach. They end up seeing another little girl pig on the same beach. The younger of the brother pigs is more outgoing and immediately runs over to meet the potential friend. The older of the two pigs is shy and keeps his distance for most of the story. The older pig brother starts to feel left out because his younger brother and the little girl pig start look like they are having so much fun without him. Eventually the older pig breaks out of his shyness by helping out a friend and he gets proper recognition for his sweet personality. 

This children’s book would better be described as a picture book. Every page of the book is a full illustration. The words are used in active places on page. For example, much of the dialogue is written in text that curves around the speaker. It is obvious that the author chose every word in a particular way. The text of the pages is written on both the top and the bottom of the pages. 

The illustrations in the book are beautiful and add to the story. The art in this book was created with acrylics and colored pencil. The way in which each of the pigs is illustrated depicts their personality. For example, the younger brother pig that has an outgoing personally is dressed minimally in a small diaper. The older brother pig that has a very shy personality is dressed in a button up shirt even though he is on a hot beach. The girl pig is wearing a very quirky outfit complete with crazy glasses; this represents her unique personality very well. 

I think that this is a very cute book for young children. This book might be more special for children that are shy. This book has a very sweet and simple value that would be easy for children to understand. The pictures are well done and would be keep the interest of a young student. There is a lot of dialogue in this children’s book, which gives teachers and parents an opportunity to act out different voices. This book would be a good addition to a lesson. 

Reviewed by Taylor Hanes 


Nelson Mandela: South African Revolutionary (A Real-Life Story)

Nelson Mandela: South African Revolutionary (A Real-Life Story)

Written by Beatrice Gormley

Aladdin, 2015, Ages 11+

Nelson Mandela: South African Revolutionary (A Real-Life Story) is a biography detailing the life of Nelson Mandela. Mandela was born in 1918 in South Africa. He went to the University College of Fort Hare where he showed interest in politics, specifically equality. Mandela became part of the ANC, the African National Congress, an anti-apartheid group. Mandela was elected president but shortly after was arrested for communism and was later sentenced to a life in prison. From prison, Mandela spoke with the President of South Africa and then was released from prison after serving 27 years. He shared a Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk. In 1994, Mandela was elected president in the first democratic election. Mandela is one of the most well-known revolutionaries, bringing about great change for South Africa. 

The author's writing style is non-fiction and factual. She provides readers with clear, accurate facts and includes sources in the back of the novel. Her writing style is very fluid and easy to read. She uses appropriate vocabulary and grammar and includes a glossary in the back of the book. The author's description of Mandela's time in prison allows readers to identify Mandela as a real person. "For Nelson Mandela, solitary confinement was harder to bear than the lack of food. There was nothing to do, nothing to see except the four walls of the cell, and worst of all, no one to talk to. He lost track of time, and his mind began to play tricks on him. He was glad if a cockroach crawled out of a crack, because even an insect was some kind of company." The descriptive passages provide the reader with an idea of what life in prison was really like. 

I really enjoyed this book! I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the anti-apartheid movement and Nelson Mandela. This book can be used in conjunction with teaching about the anti-apartheid movement in classrooms. Beatrice Gormley tells the life story of Nelson Mandela in a very pleasing way. I believe that readers will identify with Mandela's kindness and peaceful ideals. I recommend this to anyone over the age of 11. 

Reviewed by LRA

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Day the Crayons Came Home

The Day the Crayons Came Home

Written by Drew Daywalt; Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Philomel Books, 2015, Ages 5-7

This story is about 14 crayons who left their owner or was left by their owner at some point and ended up in different situations. Throughout the book, the crayons are writing letters to their owner, Duncan, to let him know what happened to them and why they are on their way back to him. They also write him letters about the journey and the obstacles they faced to get back to him. When Duncan learned of everything that had happened to them he ran around his house searching for them and finding them. Once he did find them, he realized they were all so broken and damaged that they would not fit into their crayon box, so he decided to make them a new home where each crayon would fit in. This kept the crayons happy and pleased so they would never leave again. 

The author used humor in his story by making them all have their own personalities. Each crayon is coming from a different destination trying to make their way back to their owner, Duncan. Throughout the book, each crayon gives a little background information and when they will be back. For example, Pea Green wanted to change his name to Esteban... the Magnificent. He also had a crown named Neon Red who traveled the world to get back to him which is also another funny little adventure. I liked he introduced and closed the book with a narrator, but every other page is like the crayons are talking right to Duncan. 

The illustrations in this book are so bright and colorful. They are very fun to look at because the drawing alone are good, but with all the colors make it more interesting and give it more life. I also like how on some of the pages there are drawings as if they were Duncan's so it gives it more of a realistic point of view. I also like how the author and illustrator made the words on the envelopes look like the crayons were writing it, not the author writing it and for any children reading or having this read to them. This would be very interesting to them and they may even think the crayons at their desk are living. He also made the backgrounds different so that each picture would stick out more. For example, Glow in the Dark Crayon can only be seen in darkness, so the illustrator made the whole page black with the writing and drawings on it. That made it a little more interesting than just another white page. 

I really liked this book, this is actually one of my new favorite children's book. I would absolutely recommend this book to other teachers, any parents, and individuals who just like to read and look into different styles of books. I think this book would be best for kindergarten through second grade because they are all at the age where they will think it is so cool that the crayons are talking. I would say past that age though, they will know this is not a realistic book and may not be as amused with it. I enjoyed reading this book and I think kids would love this. Having a younger classroom would be the perfect time to grab this book so you could read it at circle time or even just for a reward they could get to pick this book to read. It is very visual, bright, and funny which are three main reasons I really enjoyed this book. 

Reviewed by Sara Utley 

Be A Friend

Be A Friend

Written by Salina Yoon

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2016, Ages 3-6

The book Be A Friend, is about a young boy named Dennis who expressed himself in a very unique way when compared to others. Everyone called him ‘Mime Boy’ because he dressed like a mime and never spoke a word! He would only act out how he was feeling or what he was thinking. However, not many people understood him which left him lonely at times- he felt invisible. That was until a girl named Joy showed Dennis that he was not invisible and she saw the world the same way he did. They never spoke a word, but were still able to develop a friendship just like everyone else. 

It is obvious when you read this book that it was written for children. The author uses short and simple sentences while still being descriptive and getting her point across. She keeps the story very engaging by using descriptive words and keeping readers interested by leaving sentences unfinished from one page to the next. For example, on one page it reads “Dennis was an ordinary boy…” and then on the next it finishes with, “…who expressed himself in extraordinary ways.” In addition to all of this, the author also chooses words on each page and  puts them in bold and capitalizes all of the letters in them for emphasis as well. For example, on one page it reads “Dennis didn’t speak a word. He would only ACT- in scenes.” All of these techniques that the author is using is a way to enhance the experience for the readers learning. 

With this being a picture book, the illustrations is the most important element. The illustrations take up the entire page and show Dennis acting out his different thoughts and scenes. Throughout the entire story the illustrations are very detailed and colorful which only makes the story stronger in all aspects. The pictures are so colorful and bold and show so much detail that it’s hard not to fall in love with the story when paired with the illustrations. Everyone in these pictures are so happy- including Dennis once he meets Joy, which shows children that it’s important to accept others- even if they are a little different than you. 

I would definitely recommend Be A Friend for children or teachers for their classroom. This is a great story that will teach children a very important lesson- accepting others. This lesson is perfect for children at this age considering how they will be working on forming relationships with others and how important it is for them to have friendships with children their age. Not only is the text and theme of this story great, but the illustrations are also fun, wonderfully made and help to keep children engaged in the story. The pictures are colorful and go along perfectly with the text so that readers know exactly what is happening throughout the story. I would definitely use this book in my future classroom to show my students and any other teacher should as well- it would be a perfect addition to any classroom. 

Reviewed by Emily Ervin


Horton Hears A Who!

Horton Hears A Who! 

Written by Dr. Seuss

Random House Books for Young Readers, 1954, Ages 4-9

Horton Hears A Who! is about an elephant named Horton that hears a voice coming from a speck on a flower. His big ears allow him to hear the voices of the Whos, unfortunately the other animals cannot hear anything which makes him look crazy. The voice coming from the speck turns out to be the voice of the Mayor of Whoville, the town that is placed on the tiny speck. At first when Horton tells the mayor that their whole town is so small it can fit on a speck he does not believe it. However, after he pays attention to all the strange things happening around him he comes to the realization that they are in fact living on a speck and everything in Whoville begins to make more sense. Horton decides that in order to keep the city of Whoville in existence he must get the speck on the flower to a safe place, even if it puts himself in danger. The author’s purpose for “Horton Hears A Who!” is to show the audience that all people are equal whether they are big or small. 

Dr. Seuss' writing style in this book is bold and exciting. Dr. Seuss rhymes in a lot of his books and uses simple words since the audience is mostly children. He does an amazing job of keeping the readers engaged which is obvious because it seems as everyone knows who Dr. Seuss is. He is very expressive when it comes to using his words in his stories. Dr. Seuss is an overall great writer, he uses his creativity when writing and that definitely shows in his books. 

The illustrations in the book Horton Hears A Who! are pretty simple for the most part. The animals are outlined in black and are very straightforward. The setting of this book is in the jungle of Nool. The jungle is filled with plenty of wacky wildlife illustrations such as the trees and strange shaped plants. Dr. Seuss focuses a lot on the expressions of the characters in this book, for example the kangaroo always looks angry, and even though Horton is a very large elephant there are times when he looks scared and nervous. 

I would absolutely recommend this book to any child. Dr. Seuss did an outstanding job on this book as well as his whole collection of others. The particular age interests for this book are anywhere between 4-9 years old. Of course if a younger or older individual enjoys Dr. Seuss books as much as I do, the age range would be all ages. Horton Hears A Who! is a wonderful book with a story line and illustrations to keep any reader engaged. 

Reviewed by Bridget Benedict 

I Really Like Slop!

 I Really Like Slop! 

Written and illustrated by Moe Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, 2015, Ages 4-8

The story I Really Like Slop! is about an elephant named Gerald, and a pig named Piggie. Piggie made himself a meal that does not smell too appetizing to Gerald and he calls it “slop” Piggie starts to explain to Gerald the different things that go into slop that makes it so delicious to him, but Gerald finds it to be repulsive. When Piggie asks Gerald if he would like to try Gerald says no, and this hurts Piggie because he really likes slop, and he really likes Gerald so he wants Gerald to enjoy what he enjoys. When Gerald sees that Piggie is upset he decides to take one for the team and give it a try for his good friend Piggie. When he tries the slop you can tell by Gerald’s reaction that he does not like the slop, and when Piggie asks if he likes it Gerald is honest to Piggie and says, “No, but I’m glad I tried it. Because I really like you.” It is obvious that that made Piggie very happy. 

The writing style is an interesting one. Every page is just a back and forth conversation between Gerald and Piggie about the slop. There is a lot of exaggeration between the two and that is obvious in the text. An important thing to understand about this book is that the text is apart of the illustration too. When you see the two talking it is in text bubbles above their heads. A good example of the exaggerated speech is when Piggie is trying to explain slop to Gerald and he says, “Sure, I eat this! Pigs really, really, really, really, really like slop! Eating slop is part of pig culture.” Gerald’s response to his extreme opinion on slop was just, “oh” as he rolls his eyes. It is an easy, and interesting read that children would definitely enjoy. 

The illustrations are pretty basic but really add character to the story as well. There is no scenery it is just the two of them in a blank area, with Piggie holding the slop that has a few flies around it, and that is about as in depth as they go. Their facial expressions and body language change as their conversation continues. Even though it doesn’t have all these extravagant details and scenery I think this is good enough for this story. The best part is when Gerald tries the slop and he starts to flop around and change colors. I think this is important because it really gets the point across about how gross slop really is. Also, kids will really get a kick out of it because he is really having a hard time with enjoying such a nasty dish. 

I feel this is a very well written children’s book, and it is the type of book I would want in my classroom one day. It has such a silly story, but it carries a nice message about friendship that would be important for children to understand at such a young age, especially because kids at this age are all about “mine” and not wanting to share or try things the other kids do. The characters are very cute, and the text is so simple that it would even be a good book for a child in the early stages of independent reading. 

Reviewed by J.E.

A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington 

Written by Michael Bond; Illustrated by Peggy Fortnum

Harper Collins, 2014, Ages 6-10

A Bear Called Paddington is an entertaining children's book. Paddington bear is from Peru, he originally lived with his aunt who pushed him to move away after she decided to check into a retirement home for the older bears. With that being said, Paddington sets out on the adventure of a lifetime carrying only a few jars of marmalade, a suitcase, and a tag around his neck saying "Please take care of this bear. Thank you." Paddington meets Mr. and Mrs. Brown at Paddington station where they ask him his name and he replies that he does not have one. The Browns decide to name him Paddington because they met him at Paddington Station and take him in as one of their own. Paddington easily becomes part of the family, the two Brown children love Paddington as well as most of the people around him. Throughout Paddington's time at the Brown families house he gets himself into many messy adventures including his first bath and his first time to the store. Nonetheless, things always work out in the end for the always friendly Paddington Bear. 

The author's writing style is very smooth, the book flows very well together and keeps the readers engaged throughout the whole book. The word choice in this book seems to be very carefully written with just the right amount of humor along with imagination to keep the attention of the readers. 

The illustrations in this book are innocent and pleasant to look at. Paddington is presented as a charming little bear with distinct features that set him apart from the rest. The illustrations are simple but they get the point across of where the characters are at and what the setting is. 

I would absolutely recommend this book to others. Paddington is a feel good book for anyone who wants to enjoy a delightful story and end with a smile. 

Reviewed by Bridget Benedict

Specs for Rex

Specs for Rex

Written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail

Bloomsbury, 2015, Ages 3-5


This story is about a young lion named Rex who gets glasses for the first time. Originally Rex is very unhappy about getting the new glasses. He tries to hide his glasses multiple different ways, including shoving them in his cereal box. He finds out he has no luck trying to hide them because they were so big and round and red. He didn’t however want any of the other children in school to see him in his new specs so he continued to try and hide them. After trying to hide his glasses for so long Rex found that they actually had some use to him. He found them helpful when he was able to spot his teacher, Miss Spots’ glasses. He finally realized the value of his glasses and he appreciated them greatly. 

The author's writing style was nice and simple, allowing young readers to follow. She uses nice descriptions, such as crinkling and crunching that are describing the cereal being smashed when Rex tried to stuff his glasses into the cereal box. The sentence structure is also strong enough for the children to follow along with what is happening in the story and assists the images perfectly. 

The illustrations of this book have an effect that makes it appear as if it was made with watercolors. This is especially creative because it is kid friendly. They are also full of color and cover most of the page leaving little white spaces. The illustrations correspond to the story in a way that allows the children to clearly understand what is happening without even reading the pages. There are also lines throughout the illustrations that display the movement of the pictures which is a good enhancement of the story. 

Overall I really enjoyed reading and viewing this story. It can really give a nice perspective on children who have to receive glasses for the first time and how they may be hesitant at first on wearing them. It gives the example of how they may not want their fellow classmates to see them in their new glasses. This story also shows how in the end wearing glasses isn’t a bad thing and it can really benefit you after all. The book kept me entertained by making me wonder what Rex would do next and how he would handle each situation. I think this book could benefit children with and without glasses and I would definitely recommend it or even have it in my own classroom. 

Reviewed by Libby Burkhart 

I'll Never Let You Go

I'll Never Let You Go

Written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls; Illustrated by Alison Brown

Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2015, Grades K-3

This is a fiction story about the love of a parent for their child. This love is represented in many different animals, such as a bear, kangaroo, or crocodile. Each parent talks about how they love their child when they are happy, sad, angry, naughty, excited, or even irritated and bored. Each parent also laments how they will never let their child go, and will love them forever. There are a variety of animals because everyone expresses love in a different way, and a good parent will love you through anything. It is a very sweet story, with such a simple message; it will touch anyone's heart. 

The author's style is very simple; each page, for example, goes on to say when you are sleeping, curled up so tight, I stay awake, keeping watch through the night. There is repetition all throughout this book, as the parent states what they will do when their child needs them. There is rhyming all throughout the story, and there are also metaphors. For example, the line "When you are sad and troubled with fears, I hold you close and dry all of your tears." represents a parent being there for their child, whether it is in good times or bad times. The rhyming in the story will catch the attention of younger children and adults everywhere, because every line contains a heartwarming message. 

The illustrations are very cute and colorful. You can tell that they were painted in watercolor. Each illustration shows an animal and their young, and accurately describes each scenario. For example, on one page, a young dog is disobeying its parent by coloring on the wall. The illustration accurately depicts this. Each illustration also shows colors that go with the mood of the text; when the child is sad, the colors are blue, and when the child is happy and excited, there are bright orange or red colors. The illustrations are eye-popping, and will appeal to younger audiences because of the detail. I think the illustration that is the most effective in this book would be the last page, which shows every animal with their baby, hugging and watching fireworks go off in the sky. This is effective because it shows many different animals all celebrating the same thing, which is love.

I thought this book was very sweet. I think that any loving parent would want this book for their child, because it will accurately show how much they love them. The goal in this book is to show how love takes different forms, and that is accurately shown. Younger audiences will love this book because the story is simple, and the illustrations are creative and fun. Parents, teachers, and other adults will also love this book because it is about one of the greatest love stories; the story between a parent and their child. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a young child, particularly around the ages of kindergarten through third grade, because it is so heartwarming. I would also recommend this to early childhood teachers, because it would be a great addition to have in their classroom. Overall, everyone will enjoy this book, because love is contagious, especially the love between a parent and their child. 

Reviewed by Katie Partyka

The Nonsense Show

 The Nonsense Show

Written and illustrated by Eric Carl

Philomel Books, 2015, Ages 3-6


This book is about taking everyday things, and looking at them in a different way that is more silly. There are pages with illustrations showing a lion taming a human and a human in a doghouse while the dog is watching him. There is a different idea on each page showing nonsense and how that is typically incorrect. There are several different characters and animals that you will see throughout the story. This is a great book where children can laugh and find the different illustrations to be humorous. 

Eric Carl has a very descriptive writing style that helps tell the story very well. Without his disruptive words, it would be more difficult to see the humor throughout the story. An example from the book of his descriptive writing is when the author said, "Up-sy, down-ay, nice and strait. Smile a mile." You can then see in the pictures of how the words perfectly describe it. The author also uses a lot of communication between the characters in the book, which gives it more action and descriptions of the scenes. 

Eric Carl is the same author/illustrator that wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I know of as a very well known book with its colorful and fun illustrations. Eric Carl uses a varsity of vibrant colors and a cut paper look to make his pictures. There are illustrations on each page of the book that really relate to the text and give a great image of what the story is saying. This is a great book where children can laugh and find the different illustrations to be humorous. 

I would recommend this book to a young audience, toddlers- early elementary age. I think it is a funny book that can get the children to giggle and they will also interact with the book. They can notice the humor easily and be able to correct it in their minds. I think this is a fun and easy read to read aloud to a class or for an older child to read to themselves. 

Reviewed by HT