I am so behind on book reviews.
I have been reviewing books for my column every week, but then the week gets away from me and those reviews don’t make it to the blog. Sad day.
Anyway, I am trying to play catch up by posting a several reviews in one post. This is like a giant food baby book review post. Your head might actually explode, or implode…I’m not really sure.
Also, I went to a writing conference last weekend and it was glorious! I met so many wonderful, wonderful people and I have been feeling INSPIRED!
That is a topic for another day. Today is about books! I did get some good books at the conference too 🙂
Mostly picture book reviews today with a chapter book thrown in. I saved my favorites for the end 🙂 I hope you find something you like or let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought.
Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green (2013, Boyds Mills Press, Chapter Book)
Lola Zuckerman seems to come in last at everything. Her last name does start with a “Z” after all. But Lola is tired of being last and sets out to win her classroom’s Going Green contest. There’s just one problem, Amanda Anderson, her former best friend, is first in the alphabet and first in most other things. Lola needs to win the contest but she needs to beat Amanda to do it.
Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green is the first in a new chapter book series written by Christine Pakkala and illustrated by Paul Hoppe. While the story is cute, Lola’s narration feels a bit immature for her being in second grade. The classroom contest is fun and might give readers some great ideas for going green in their own lives, but Lola comes across as a poor sport and even rude at times. The dynamics with her former friend leave Lola looking like the worst friend in the world, and I don’t know that readers will have much sympathy for her at times. The story does get better toward the end, and nearly redeems itself. While adults will likely not find Lola amusing, first and second grade readers might enjoy Lola’s antics. This would be a fun read for Earth Day or to tie in with some other activity or celebration about caring for the Earth.
3 stars for Lola’s going green idea.
Look for reviews of other books in this series coming soon!
Cat Knit (2016, Fiewel and Friends, Picture Book)
Cat and Girl have always been friends. Then Girl brings home Yarn and Cat has a new friend! Cat and Yarn do everything together but Girl wants to play with Yarn too. Cat doesn’t like this new friendship between Girl and Yarn. He just wants his Yarn back.
Cat Knit, written and illustrated by Jacob Grant, is a cute tale of friendship and change. The crayon and charcoal illustrations are lovely and help move the story forward. The story is absolutely charming until about three quarters of the way through, then the pace suddenly picks up and the story is over just as Cat decides maybe the new Yarn is okay. While the ending is satisfying, and the plot is both slightly predictable while also being clever, the change in pacing really throws off the whole feel of the story. Children will likely enjoy this story and it’s a fun winter tale, but adults may be left feeling a bit let down.
3 stars – one each for Cat and Yarn and Girl
The Night the Stars Went Out (2016, Capstone, Picture Book)
Alien has an important job. He must shine all the stars every night. His job is so important he never has time for fun, but that’s OK because Alien loves his job. Then one night, the unthinkable happens….all the stars go out! Alien tries everything he can think of but the stars stay out. How will Alien ever turn the stars back on?
The Night the Stars Went Out, written and illustrated by Suz Hughes, reiterates the message that all work and no play makes for a dull life. The tale starts out beautifully with the unique world of Alien polishing stars and hilariously trying to fix them, but then Alien leaves for Earth and the story loses a bit of its magic. The story wraps up a bit too neatly after such a brilliant set up and, while the ending is cute, the reader might feel a bit dissatisfied.
4 stars to keep Alien busy
The Quiet Book (2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Picture Book)
Whimsical animals quietly come together in this charming book as the reader learns there are many kinds of quiet.
In, The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, the reader goes on a wonderfully quiet journey through many everyday activities. With fun twists on kinds of “quiet” the reader will look at the world in a new way. From “Making a wish quiet” to “top of the roller coaster quiet”, adults and children will think of silent moments, and emotions, in new and fun descriptive terms. Brilliant and beautiful, this book is sure to be a favorite at bed time. Gorgeous illustrations add weight and charm to the clever text, creating a book that needs to be read again and again. Highly recommended for children of all ages.
5 stars hanging in the sky quiet
Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems (2016, Penguin Random House Canada, Picture Book)
A girl and her dog run into all sorts of problems as they go about their day. Luckily they have solutions too! Some solutions are better than others but as long as they are together they can handle cold feet and other little problems.
Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems, written and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff, is delivered in simple, short sentences and carried by the illustrations. The text is perfect for beginning readers to tackle alone, while the story is engaging enough for parents to enjoy reading it with their children too. This is a great read as winter approaches and the weather gets chilly. The story is soft and lovely, and will warm your heart and your feet.
5 stars to shine on a cold winter night
Books Do Not Have Wings (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)
A book is more than just a book…because books do not have wings. Take a wild ride where anything is possible and climb ladders into the clouds. Sail a ship, see a dragon, and fly high with your imagination. Where will this book take you?
Books Do Not Have Wings, written by Brynne Barnes and illustrated by Rogerio Coelho, is simply stunning in words and in pictures. The text of the story will carry the reader away on a magical journey made even greater by the fantastic and whimsical illustrations. With bold strokes and an incredibly imaginative flair, each spread of this book is breath-taking.
The premise of this book about books, is that a book is just a book until the reader picks it up. Once a book is read, it becomes so much more than just a book. Books are flat objects of paper and ink, but the stories on their pages have wings to carry the reader anywhere. And this book fulfills that promise and will carry the reader far.
Children and adults will linger on every page taking in the elaborate and intricate illustrations or reading the poetic lines again and again.
With nods to fairy tales and traditional characters, this book touches on a multitude of children’s literary staples. If any book could inspire a child to seek out other books, this one will.
5 beautiful, brilliant stars to light the reader’s way
Thank you to all the publishers for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review. Each of these reviews also appeared within my newspaper column sometime in the past month.