The Wondrous Dinosaurium – John Condon, illustrated by Steve Brown

    The Wondrous Dinosaurium – John Condon, illustrated by Steve Brown, Maverick Publishing Ltd., 9781848864740, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? Many children love dinosaurs and what child would not want a dinosaur for a pet? In this story, Danny has finally convinced his mom to let him get a new pet. However, she might not realize that the pet he has in mind is not a dog, cat, or goldfish, but a dinosaur! Danny heads into town to visit Mr. Ree’s Dinosaurium (because that is where you go when you want a new dinosaur). There are so many to choose from and Danny struggles with finding the perfect dinosaur as a pet. His first choice is a Diplodocus Longus, but that one requires ½ ton of vegetation each day. Next he chooses a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but decides not to bring it home when he realizes it is a meat eater. This continues with several other dinosaurs, but they all are not quite the right fit–one flies too high dragging Danny with it, the other poops too much, another one chases the cat, one has a messy sneeze, and the last one has a hard tail that whacks everything in its path. Danny finally finds the perfect dinosaur, a Meiolania, and brings it home in a small cardboard box. His mother is pleased because she thinks he brought home a turtle (because that is what a Meiolania looks like), but Danny knows that he really brought home a dinosaur. At the end of the book, we see Danny and his “turtle” two years later and realize it is not a turtle after all!

The illustrations provided by Steve Brown add more humor to the already silly story. Such details as a bite mark on the “Open” sign, Mr. Ree’s outlandish outfit, foliage missing from trees in town because of a hungry dinosaur, the license plate of a car “D1NO”, and an umbrella used by Mr. Ree to shelter him from the drool of the T Rex are all funny little details that young children will enjoy seeing.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book for children ages three and older. This is a perfect story for a child who loves dinosaurs, but it would definitely be enjoyed by other children as well due to the silly nature of the story.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone who works with children ages three and older.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 2, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Dinosaurs | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Shared Room – Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Xee Reiter

 The Shared Room – Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Xee Reiter, University of Minnesota Press, 9781517907945, 2020

Format: ARC (hardcover available June, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? This is a story of unimaginable loss, the loss of a child, but also the power of family love, healing, and hope. The story begins on a winter day in St. Paul, Minnisota. A family with three young children huddle in the living room enjoying the warmth of a fire. Family photos are displayed on the wall above the fireplace and this is when we learn that there was a fourth child, a young girl, who passed away several months ago in a drowning accident. The family was enjoying a beautiful summer day in a park by a lake. The little girl was enjoying the water–feeling the coolness on her toes and then her waist as she slowly walked deeper in the water. However, she slipped under the water, struggled, and was never noticed in the crowd of people. Her death and the loss this family feels is palpable throughout the house. Her room has been left intact still holding the indentations of her body on the bed and the scent of her skin. Her parents sometimes go there to grieve, but must always come back to the present when the other children need their attention. The loss of this daughter has created a gloominess in the house that is felt by both the parents and the siblings. The older brother shares a bedroom with his brother, and the baby of the family sleeps in the parent’s room, and this leaves the sister’s room vacant. Eventually, the parents ask the older boy if he would like to be in his sister’s room. At first he is confused because he now realizes that his sister will not be coming home. Gradually, he and his parents pack away his sister’s belongings and he settles into his new room. He now sees what his sister saw when she was in this room. That evening, a winter storm covers their neighborhood with a new blanket of snow. The family awakens the next morning and again huddles together as a family in front of the warm fire–slowly melting the coolness of the loss they feel and always remembering this special young girl.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is a very specific topic and would be appropriate for a child experiencing loss on a couple of levels–parent, grandparent, friend, and sibling. It is a story that recognizes how painful this type of loss can feel and does not try to hide that this loss creates a deep sadness within an entire family. However, there is a glimmer of hope in that this family unit will continue to love each other and will move forward–always remembering the family member who is not with them any more. The material would be appropriate for a child older than five years old.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, guidance office.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books/Parenting Picture Books (if you have that type of section in with parenting books).

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 2, 2020

 

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Death | Tagged | Leave a comment

My New Haircut: Early Concepts: Shapes – Jeffrey Turner

    My New Haircut: Early Concepts: Shapes – Jeffrey Turner, Schiffer Kids, 9780764359163, 2020

Format: Board Book

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? This cute board book introduces young children to seven basic shapes–all while discussing a new haircut. The story begins with a poodle trying to decide what kind of haircut to get. For some reason he thinks a haircut in the design of a particular shape would be the way to go, so he contemplates what each shape would look like on his head. The great part about this is that when a shape is mentioned, a familiar object is also mentioned, so that a young child could have a better understanding of this shape. For example, a round haircut would be like having a ball on your head, a square haircut frames your face, a triangle would look like a pyramid on your head, and so on. This is a lighthearted way of introducing shapes and the silly haircuts will produce many giggles among young children.

The vibrant colors used in the illustrations are sure to appeal to young children. The shapes have textures in them through the use of swirls and shading. Because of the colors used, this is also a wonderful tool in reinforcing colors to young children as well.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book for children between the ages of two and four. There is plenty of humor while at the same time introducing simple shapes to very young children.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone who works with children between the ages of two and four.

Where would you shelve it? Board books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, 

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 2, 2020

 

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Board book, Concepts, Jeffrey Turner, Shapes | Tagged | Leave a comment

 Stand Up, Yumi Chung! – Jessica Kim

  Stand Up, Yumi Chung! – Jessica Kim, Kokila, (9780525554974), 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:    Realistic

What did you like about the book?   Eleven year old Yumi yearns to become a stand up comic.  Her parent’s Korean restaurant is in financial trouble and they expect Yumi to follow in her older sister’s footsteps by earning a scholarship to the private school she attends. But all is not as it seems in her sister’s life.  Why is she home so much when she is supposed to be in medical school? Meanwhile, Yumi’s mom signs her up for intense test-prep tutoring over the summer. But when Yumi accidentally walks into a comedy camp class taught by her idol Jasmine Jasper, she is mistaken for another student. Soon, Yumi is balancing her intense studies, working at her parent’s restaurant and attending comedy camp as Kay Nakamura.  When the secrets are exposed, Yumi fights for the chance to follow her dreams even as she tries to save the restaurant. This is a wonderful story about families and following one’s dreams. The novel is interspersed with pages from Yumi’s comedy notebook.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Hand this to budding comedians and readers who love family centered stories.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?   Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  3/29/2020        

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Humor, Jessica Kim, Realistic fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

My New Friends: Early Concepts: Colors – Jeffrey Turner

    My New Friends: Early Concepts: Colors – Jeffrey Turner, Schiffer Kids, 9780764359149, 2020

Format: Board Book

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? This book uses a cute little rhyming story along with bright silly illustrations to introduce very young children to primary and secondary colors. The story begins with a white poodle who wants to introduce the reader to all her friends. We meet a red bear, an orange cat, a yellow snake, a blue snail, a green frog,and a purple squirrel. Little tidbits are added about each new friend which lends some humor to the story– the bear likes to braid hair, the cat knits a hat, the snake eats cake, the snail delivers mail, the frog hugs a dog, and the squirrel likes to twirl with pearls. So, not only do we have colors but we have rhyming text as well– a winning combination. There are some other colors in the illustrations as well including pink, brown, turquoise, white, and black.

Because this book is designed for very young children, the illustrations are vibrant yet simple and uncluttered. There is enough detail in the illustrations to keep it visually interesting, but not too much to overstimulate a young child. There is also repetition of the colors in the illustrations so children can practice identifying colors using different illustrations throughout the book. For example, the color red is seen on the red bear, on the tongue of the cat and the snake, and a ball of yarn. There is also a page at the end of the book that explains and illustrates the difference between primary and secondary colors.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book for children between the ages of two and four. The thing to keep in mind with this book is that the items used to show a particular color are not accurate (red bear, purple squirrel) and there are plenty of other books on the market with more accurate color/items pairings. However, if a child enjoys this type of silliness, then this would be a perfect book.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone who works with children between the ages of two and four.

Where would you shelve it? Board books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, the playful rhyming text is amusing and allows this book to be a little more than just a book about primary and secondary colors.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 2, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Colors, Rhyming | Tagged | Leave a comment

How To Tie A Shoe & Other Big Adventures – illustrations by Skip Hill

  How To Tie A Shoe & Other Big Adventures – illustrations by Skip Hill, Penny Candy Books, 9780999658482, 2020

Format: ARC (Hardcover available March 10, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? This book is perfect on so many levels–inspiring for children and gorgeous illustrations. The basic concept of this book starts with the challenge of learning to tie a shoe, which can be quite a daunting task for a young child. However, this book presents three challenges before even mentioning learning to tie a shoe–eating a humongous bowl of spaghetti, finding a hidden robin’s nest, and untangling a mass of hair from a night’s sleep. Basically, if you can do any of these things, then you can probably tie a shoe. But the book does not stop there. We see many other big adventures that children tackle every day including tracing patterns on an intricate rug, finding your way home in the dark, enjoying a saturday filled with so many possibilities, camping under the moon and stars, and being reunited with friends after summer break. Basically, tying a shoe is really no different than all of these other wonderful adventures.

I cannot begin to explain how wonderful Skip Hill has illustrated this book. The illustrations are in black and white and contain so much depth and emotion on each page. This  includes the queasy look of a boy determined to devour a massive bowl of spaghetti, the wonderment on the faces of two children who found a mother bird feeding her young, a look of awe and reflection as a child gazes at a full moon deep in the dark woods, and the beaming faces of two young girls being reunited at school. These illustrations remind me of Sir John Tenniel’s black and white illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, but with heavier use of black ink– just as expressive and detailed.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book for children between the ages 4-11. It is a perfect book for children getting ready to undertake a challenging task–it would empower them to know that they have already accomplished so much and that they can handle any new challenge that comes their way.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone that works with children between the ages of 4-11.

Where would you shelve it? Picture book

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, has a winning combination of an encouraging message and beautiful illustrations.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 1, 2020

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A Little Called Pauline – Gertrude Stein, illustrations by Bianca Stone

    A Little Called Pauline – Gertrude Stein, illustrations by Bianca Stone, Penny Candy Books, 9780999658499, 2020

Format: ARC (Hardcover available April 14, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? The poem “A Little Called Pauline” was originally published in 1914, as part of a collection of poems entitled Tender Buttons. In this collection, poet Gertrude Stein provides poetic observations in three categories– objects, food, and rooms. For this book, artist Bianca Stone translates Stein’s (abstract and somewhat confusing) poetry into interesting and colorful illustrations. However, my first thought when finishing this story is that I was actually reading two different books–one from the poet and a wordless story from the illustrator. 

The illustrations provide a sweet story of a single mother and her daughter, Pauline. The story begins with the mother being very pregnant and rushing to the hospital to deliver her daughter. As the pages turn, we see the day to day activities of mother and daughter including writing, playing outside, walking the dog, and getting together with family and friends. The reader also sees how the mother truly understands her daughter when her daughter receives gifts of frilly pink dresses. Pauline is mortified, so her mother immediately goes to her sewing machine and whips up a blue pantsuit that seems to please Pauline immensely. We really do get the impression that this mother would do anything for her daughter’s happiness.  Through the illustrations we see that Pauline desires a gold crown that she spies in an outdoor market and is very upset when her mother clearly informs her that she cannot have that crown. Later that day, there appears to be a birthday celebration for Pauline but she is so upset about the crown that she climbs out of her bedroom window and escapes out to sea in a small boat. Things turn treacherous at sea and Pauline is rescued by her mother and the rest of her family and friends. It is at that time that she realizes everything she ever wants or needs she already has–however, she is surprised when she does receive the crown as a gift. The best part– she presents the crown to her mother.

Anything you did not like about the book. The description above is basically the story if you were to just look at the wonderful illustrations provided by Bianca Stone. However, if you read the text provided by Gertrude Stein, this story would not make any sense at all. As a former Language Arts teacher, I understand the value of exposing children to poetry and this does not always need to be Shel Silversein or Jack Prelutsky, but Gertrude Stein might be going a little too far in the other direction. Sentences such as “No cut in pennies and little dressing and choose wide soles and little spats really little spices” and “A letter a cold sleeve a blanket a shaving house and nearly the best and regular window” will be completely lost on a child (and most adults, including myself).

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is recommended for children between the ages of 7-11, but I personally do not know a child that would be able to make sense of this poetry.

Who should buy this book? I would not recommend the purchase of this book. Even though the illustrations are whimsical and would be appreciated by many children, the text does not follow suit and therefore would not be a wise purchase for a library.

Where would you shelve it? Picture book/Poetry

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No, however, the illustrations provided by Bianca Stone are wonderful and the book would be fun for the pictures alone.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: April 1, 2020

 

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment