Friday, September 29, 2017

Sara Lost and Found

Author: Virginia Castleman
Aladdin (2016)
Age: 8-12 years

Ten year old Sara takes care of her 12 year old sister who struggles to communicate and function. This is a story of what happens to these two girls who are abandoned by their parents and are bounced around the foster care system. The darker side of this world are present but minimal with the primary emphasis on the kindness of complete strangers and the healing power of a community that rallies around these girls. 


It is rare that the characters in a book and the events that happen to them move me enough to cry but this author did just that. Castleman's writing style is age appropriate and flows smoothly.

The opening scene of this book will stay with me for a long time. This book is happy and sad but most certainly thought provoking and a discussion starter for sure. 


Review by Colleen Boff


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Alfred A. Knopf (2016)
Ages 5-9

This is the biography of young Louis Braille and his journey to becoming one of the youngest and most influential inventors. Readers will learn how Louis became blind as a young boy and the spirit and ingenuity that went into his invention of a simple system of reading and writing for the blind that uses just six dots.

The author weaves the story of young Louis's life using him as the narrator. Told in first person, it feels like Louis is sitting in the room telling us his story. 

The illustrations in this book need no words to accompany them. Through the use of facial expressions and the use of light and dark, the reader easily comprehends when young Louis goes blind. Kulikov creates beautiful illustrations using watercolors with calming, warm color and soft edges. 

This is a wonderful story of a young boy who used his ingenuity to make an invaluable discovery in the 1800s that is still in use today. This is also a story of someone who simply loved to learn and couldn't be kept from doing so. It is no surprise that this is the recipient of the 2017 ALA Schneider Family Book Award.

Review by Colleen Boff

Radiant Child: The Story of a Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Author/Illustrator: Javaka Steptoe
Little, Brown and Company (2016)
Ages 5-10

This is a biographical story about Jean-Michel Basquiat, a talented young artist who made his debut in the 80's but whose life was cut short when he died at 27. The reader learns who and what influenced this young artist.

The author's writing style is simple and succinct with the pictures telling most of the story.

Steptoe uses similar techniques to Basquiat's to illustrate this book and to tackle the tough task of conveying the biography of this important artist through pictures. The illustrations are rich in color, texture and detail. There is so much to take in and absorb in each two-page spread, both in artistry and plot.

Winner of the 2017 Coretta Scott King and the Caldecott Awards, this picture book is a must have for all libraries, classrooms and personal collections. It tackles tough issues and includes a tapestry of different cultures and influences.

Review by Colleen Boff

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cloth Lullaby: the Woven Life of Louise Bourgeous


Author: Amy Novesky
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault

Abrams Books for Young Readers (2016) ; Grades 2 and up

This is the story of the life of Louise Bourgeois, world-renowned artist best known for her giant spider sculptures. We learn what inspired Louise's artistry from her childhood including her mother, the family business and the outdoors.

The prose in this book are age appropriate. Hand written in upper case letters makes for easier reading. The author provides additional notes in the back of the book for the more curious.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. The colors of soft with an interesting blend of mostly blues and reds intermixed with pops of yellows. But what makes these illustrations really interesting is that the illustrator employs a technique that makes the images feel textured.

I did not know about the life of Louise Bourgeois but was inspired by this intriguing book enough to do more research on this artist. This book would provide a wonderful backdrop for a discussion about the inner workings and habits of those who are creative.

Reviewed by Colleen Boff

Wolf Hollow


Written by: Lauren Wolk

Dutton Childrens Books-Penguin Young Readers Group (an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

2016; Grades 5-8

Eleven year old Annabelle, the straightforward and sweetly honest protagonist of this story, must cross through Wolf Hollow on her way to school every day with her two younger brothers in small town Pennsylvania in the mid 1940's. Eccentric and loner Toby, a veteran of WWI, quietly watches over them as they pass through the hollow each day and attempt to navigate the cruel antics from the class bully, Betty. A particularly violent incident occurs one day in the hollow instigated by Betty that embroils this cast of characters and the whole town in an investigation that brings out both the disappointing and commendable sides of human nature. 

It is no wonder that this author won the Newbery Honor Award for this book. Each character has depth and the plot makes the reader anxious to read to the end. 

There are so many rich discussion points in this book from grappling with moral dilemmas and bullies to what happens when a whole town sets its mind to liking or disliking someone. There are several heartbreaking moments in this book but I loved the unflappable character and dignity of Annabelle. I would highly recommend this book. 

Review by Colleen Boff

Monday, July 03, 2017

It Came in the Mail


Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton
Simon & Schuster (2016) Ages: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade

Have you ever noticed how much the love of receiving mail changes with age? Of course, as one gets older they are likely  unenthused by mail, as mail for adults typically consists of advertisements, appointment reminders, and dreaded bills. However, for kids, receiving mail is like opening a gift on Christmas. It is a magical experience for them because, as kids, they typically receive much neater items in the mail such as gift cards, letters from grandparents, and many other goodies. Liam, the main character, experienced the magic of receiving neat things in the mail, but perhaps things that are a little out of the ordinary such as dragons, flying wails, talking pineapples, and comical funny bones. One might think that receiving mail such as this is the best gift of all. But the young boy soon finds that there is indeed something better than receiving mail. Check out this book to see what it is! 

This author appears to have a set means of approaching the reader. I admire his style as I found subtle hints of humor an adult may understand and enjoy. It reminds me of childhood movies that I rewatch today as an adult and hind more humor and jokes that I may not have understood as a child. 

The illustrations are clever in my opinion because the picture are clean, organized, and keeps the reader engaged, wanting to turn to the next page to see the next illustration. Ben Clanton very cleverly adds stamps to the mailed animals and other magical creatures that may be found on mail packages. 

I recommend this book to families that love to read to their children before bedtime. It is humorous for both children and adults, it is quick to read, and engages children to be excited and informed about the mailing system. For teachers, it may be a useful way to lead into a letter writing unit.


Reviewed by Katherine McPhillips

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