Spooky House – Benji Davies

  Spooky House (Bizzy Bear) – Benji Davies, Nosy Crow, (9780763693275), 2017.

Format: Board Book Picture Book

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

Genre: Holiday (Halloween)

What did you like about the book? This interactive Halloween board book is the latest of over fourteen Bizzy Bear adventures. Short rhyming phrases describe the wizard-garbed bear on his trek through the not-very-scary haunted house, “Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, creaky stair. Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, what’s that there?” There are five interactive tabs, one for each two page spread. Each operates differently. The tab on the cover slides open the door and at the same time reveals a friend peeping out of the window; another requires the reader to turn a circular inset to reveal witchy animals flying by on broomsticks. Made of heavy cardboard, the manipulatives seem sturdy enough to stand up to repeated use.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  There is no explanation for why the bear is named “Bizzy” Bear. It seems a shame to get kids used to seeing the word ‘busy’ misspelled unless there is a reason for it.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for ages one to four. Best read one-on-one so as to limit fighting over who gets to manipulate the tabs.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with general picture books or with holiday books if they are in a separate area.

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  7/27/17

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Cyclone – Doreen Cronin

Cyclone – Doreen Cronin, illustrations by Debra Sfetsios-Conover, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, (9781481435253), 2017

Format: hardcover

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

Genre: realistic

What did you like about the book? Doreen Cronin, author of Click Clack Moo, etc, has written a powerful debut novel about friendship, sickness and health that will stay with readers for a long time. Nora is excited to ride the Cyclone at Coney Island, so excited that she bribes her cousin Riley to ride it with her even though Riley is terrified. Unfortunately, Riley has an undiagnosed heart condition and has a stroke immediately following the ride. What comes next is terrifying — a long stay in the hospital for Riley with all her family around her. While at the hospital, Nora meets Jack, who is there for his brother who has cancer. Now Nora is terrified–that her family will find out about the fight she and Riley had the night before the accident, that they will find out about the bribe….and that Riley will not ever recover. Then Nora gets a chance to participate in Riley’s recovery by helping images for Riley to point to in her Official Book of Riley (ORB). But will Riley forgive her? I loved this honest, first-person portrayal of a kid wracked with guilt over an accident. Nora’s feelings progress in a believable way throughout the book and the reader feels every emotion along with her. The book is interspersed with explanatory footnotes about hospital lingo and terminology, as well as hand-drawn images that Nora makes for Riley’s word book. Above all, the book has heart.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Give this to students who like emotional realistic fiction. Fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Dan Gemeinhart will love this one.

Who should buy this book? All schools

Where would you shelve it ? realistic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes! I loved this one and read it in one day.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: July 26, 2017

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The Castle in the Mist – Amy Ephron

 The Castle in the Mist – Amy Ephron, Philomel Books, (9780399546983), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  American middle schoolers, Tess and her brother Max, have been sent to live in the English countryside with their Aunt Evie.  Their father, a war correspondent is in Afghanistan, and while the children are told their mother is working on a book, she is actually ill.  Stuck in a place lacking wifi they are anticipating complete boredom.  But then Tess comes across a mysterious gate in the middle of nowhere and discovers a young boy named William who lives in a castle.  Tess returns, bringing Max along, and William introduces them to his nanny.  The four enter a wondrous sculpture garden that comes to life and ride a magical Mary Poppins like carousel with horses that gallop through the fields.  The only thing they must do is “…be careful of the hawthorn trees.”  Tess must gather her courage on the mysterious night when both a blood and a blue moon occur and Max falls into the hawthorn hedge.  This is an enchanting story about wishes and family, magic and love.  

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?   Readers who love Edward Eager’s books including Half Magic and the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett will love this book.  Hand it to children who love magic and fairies.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and elementary and middle 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:  7/26/17             

 

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Itty Bitty – written and illustrated by Cece Bell

   Itty Bitty – written and illustrated by Cece Bell, Candlewick Press, (9780763693138), 2017.

Format: Board Book

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

What did you like about the book? When an “itty bitty” dog that is so tiny that daisies tower over him finds a dog treat, he chomps out the inside to create a house. Next, he gets in his tiny cart and heads to the great big department store to find the perfect cozy furnishings. Where? In the Teeny-Weeny Department, of course! After adding his purchases (sofa, lamp, rug, and book) to the house, he looks around the inviting space and pronounces it to be “wonderful!” The underlying message is a reassuring one – with a bit of effort, it is possible to carve out your own place in the world and make it to be just the way you wish. This charming picture book originally published in 2009 translates well into board book format.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for young children ages 1 to 5.

Who should buy this book? Day care centers, preschools, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with other board books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, top quarter of the pile if you haven’t already read it.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  7/26/17

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Splat! – Jon Burgerman

   Splat! – Jon Burgerman, Dial Books for Young Readers, (9780735228764), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  Readers participate in the book by turning the pages.  On the first double page spread, the left-hand page shows a green tree-like shape on a pink background, while the opposite bright yellow page features googly eyes and a smile. The text asks “What happens when you turn the page?” The answer is that the eyes and smile are now on the green shape making it into a little character.  The next right-hand page holds a cream pie and readers will now know exactly what will happen when they turn the page.  The pie is “Splat!” on the character.  Each turn of the page causes more things to “Splat” onto the goggly eyed creature – confetti, sunglasses complete with nose and lips, a peanut butter sandwich, ladybugs and yellow chicks.  Water balloons splat off some of the mess, while a fan whooshes the rest away.  The little green tree-like character is now very happy, “No more splats, right?”  Oh no, the chicks have returned with a pile of ice-cream cones, so “Splat!”  The brightly-colored pages match the slapstick humor.  Readers will love splatting everything together.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Readers who love becoming part of the story will love this one.  Pair it with Mo Willems Pigeon series and There’s a Monster At the End of This Book by Jon Stone.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school 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:  7/24/17             

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My Dog Mouse – Eva Lindstrom

   My Dog Mouse – Eva Lindstrom, Gecko Press, (9781776571482), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  This Swedish import, highlights a little girl’s love for her neighbor’s old dog.  When the narrator takes Mouse for a walk to the park, she walks slowly and tenderly calls him “old man.”  She is very attuned to Mouse’s needs and is a very responsible child. This is a quiet story without a lot of action as the two walk to and from the park, sharing lunch and enjoying their time together.  The illustrations in muted tones match the simplicity of the storyline.  In the end, the little girl brings Mouse home, waves goodbye and walks away thinking “I wish Mouse was mine.”  The next and final page shows Mouse looking out the window.  Readers will realize that Mouse loves her and that in a way he really is her dog.  

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a sweet book to share with children who love dogs.  

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school 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:  7/24/17             

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Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots – Rod Hull, illustrated by Miriam Latime

 Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots – Rod Hull, illustrated by Miriam Latimer, Barefoot Books, (9781782853190), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  In a story told in rhyming text, Mr. Betts takes his pets to Dr. Potts, the veterinarian, because they all have red spots. “A spotty fish, a spotty cat,/a spotty snake, a spotty rat,/ A spotty rabbit, a spotty frog,/a spotty canary, a spotty dog.”  This refrain will be repeated throughout the book with a change in adjective. Dr. Potts prescribes a green potion, which gets rid of the spots, but produces stripes.  Different color potions are tried, but the blue makes the pets grow beards, the yellow makes them cry and the red makes them shrink. Finally, all is well as Dr. Potts tells Mr. Betts to feed his pets and they’ll return to normal size.  The bright cartoon-like illustrations add to the fun.  

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Some of the rhyming is a bit forced: “‘Dear me, dear me,’ said Dr.Potts,/And searched through her book/ ’til she came to ‘spots.’ ‘Now strawberries suffer from botrytis. It seems your pets have…spottyitis.’”  

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a fun read aloud for story times about veterinarians and pets.  

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school 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:  7/24/17             

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