Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat by James Dean

5196RrWVFPL    Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat (I Can Read, My First Shared Reading) by James Dean, HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780062303899

Format: Hardcover Beginning Reader

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

What did you like about the book? Pete the Cat suits up for scuba diving, hoping to see a seahorse. He swims by a swordfish, a stingray, a blowfish, and other interesting sea creatures, all while barely registering a little tickle. The tickle ends up being a seahorse that was following him all along! Kids will delight in pointing out the seahorse on nearly every page. Simple, repetitive phrases and vocabulary make this a fun book to share with a beginning reader, while pointing out the easy words to learn. An entertaining story, even with the predictable ending. The cartoonish sea creatures are amusing and easily identifiable.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This will appeal to anyone who enjoys Pete the Cat picture books, and beginning readers will want to add it to their reading list as well.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Easy readers

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you’re a Pete the Cat fan!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: Feb. 11, 2016

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This is My Home, This is My School – Jonathan Bean

516ZY6FHzOL       This is My Home, This is My School – Jonathan Bean, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015. ISBN 9780374380205

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A little boy leads the reader on a tour through his school, which is also his home, as he and his siblings are schooled at home. He shows how all the spaces inside and outside the home are classrooms for teaching and learning,with my mom and dad sharing the instruction. The busy and kid-centered home is depicted as a total learning environment, complete with messes, fights and tired parents. A loving portrayal of home schooling for young children. The author was inspired by his own childhood experience. The watercolor art echoes the peripatetic atmosphere of kids at the work of learning.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For readers who like Bean’s other picture books, and for homeschooling families seeking to explain their philosophy to others.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: Feb. 11, 2016

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The Almost Terrible Playdate – Richard Torrey

514udl9B2RL     The Almost Terrible Playdate – Richard Torrey, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, (9780553510997), 2016

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  A young girl and boy have trouble deciding what they can play together during a playdate. The little girl suggests playing a queen in a castle, while the boy wants to pretend to be dinosaurs. Each child refuses to give in and they finally decide to play alone side-by-side. But it seems that playing alone is not very fun and they finally make comprises for ways to merge their imaginative play. “If you’re a bulldozer, maybe you can build a road to my castle, and when you get here you can see my singing show.” “Okay, and maybe when you’re done singing, I can turn into a dragon and give everyone a ride…” The illustrations are simple black lines except for the children’s clothing, purple for the girl and green for the boy, that is matched by the illustrated manifestations of their imaginations. The colored pencil drawings that bring their thoughts to life in crayon-like splendor are rendered in purple for her and green for him. Even the book’s cover is split right down the middle between the two colors. Readers will enjoy seeing how each child imagines and reacts to the other’s ideas. The girl imagines singing on a stage like a pop star, while the boy imagines her as a howling wolf. This is a fun story about imagination, friendship and compromise.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Some may be dismayed that the children’s imaginations heed to strict gender stereotypes.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a good book to use in illustrating compromise in friendships. Pair this with other books that capture the imagination of children such as Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles? No

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

Date of review:  2/10 /16

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Anna and the Swallow Man – Gavriel Savit

51bPEwilgTL  Anna and the Swallow Man – Gavriel Savit, Alfred A. Knopf, (9780553513349), 2016.

Format:  Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Historical fiction

What did you like about the book? This is a very unusual story. At the age of seven, Anna lives with her father in Krakow. It’s 1939. Her father is taken away during the Nazi purge of Intellectuals, leaving Anna on her own. She is taken under the wing of a very strange man, a traveler, tall and thin, and spends the next so many years walking with him in Poland, Russia and Germany.

What didn’t you like about the book? There is almost too much mystery: what happened to Anna’s father? Just who is the Swallow Man and why do they keep walking and walking? What happens to both of them at the end of the story?

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend this one to those who enjoy strange stories, well-told, filled with mystery.

Who should buy this book? Public and Middle school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Very intriguing and provocative, but not quite.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 2/10/2016

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Just Grandma, Grandpa and Me – Mercer Mayer

61-oaLX5OVL   Just Grandma, Grandpa and Me – Mercer Mayer, Random House Books for Young Readers, (9780553539868), 2016

Format:  Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? Two books in one! Reprinted together from 1983 and 1985. Have fun with Little Critter when he takes his Grandma to the beach and also when his Grandpa takes him shopping for a new suit. These are classics that never go out of style.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend this to those who love the “Little Critter” books by Mercer Mayer.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and lower elementary grades

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not quite.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 2/10/2016

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Sea Tiger – Victoria Turnbull

61qNH2bD2EL    Sea Tiger – Victoria Turnbull, Templar Books, (9780763679866), 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  A beautifully illustrated story of friendship. The sea tiger is the best friend of a shy young merboy named Oscar. They have lots of undersea adventures including a ride on a sea-horse carousel or grabbing onto the tendrils of a jellyfish for “…a ride to the surface.” The sea tiger realizes that Oscar needs more. As he says, “I am Oscar’s only friend. Where I lead, Oscar follows. That’s why it’s up to me…to make anew friend…so that Oscar can too.” Luckily the sea tiger finds a sea-lion who happens to have a little mermaid girl for a friend. This is a sweet story and the lovely colored pencil illustrious are a perfect complement. The underwater world is full of wondrous details that bring the imaginative world to life. This is a wonderful debut.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a perfect book for children who love imaginative tales especially of mermaids.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

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: 2/8/16

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A B C Dream – Kim Krans

51-LGw7piKL     A B C Dream – Kim Krans, Random House, (9780553539295), 2016

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture Book

What did you like about the book? In pen and ink illustrations with washes of watercolor, each letter of the alphabet is depicted through one to seven items beginning with the letter.   The letter “A” for instance has arrows, an apple, ants and an argyle-patterned letter “A.” The end pages have a listing of the items in the illustrations. This is a nice introduction to the alphabet that also serves as a game of identification. Children might immediately see the obvious, but will need to look deeper for some of the other words. For instance, “C “ is for chicken and cupcake, but also for crumbs. “E” is represented by an egg and the earth, with Europe front and center. Even adults will be surprised at some things they might miss: “L “has a lion and lamb, but the key also reveals the worlds “lying down” and “leaning.” An alphabet book that is far from simple.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is an alphabet book that can be enjoyed on many levels from the children just learning the abcs to older children and adults who will enjoy finding all the less obvious words.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

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: 2/8/16

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