Tuesday, May 30

Reviews of the Week 5/29

Amazing how a small vacation can totally throw me off my blogging groove... But, of course, I still read books. And I still like to share what I read. So while there haven't been many other posts on this here blog other than reviews recently, I'm giving myself a pat on the back for still blogging. And maybe I'll find the mental reserves to put some other content out there. Eventually. (Ah, well, just keeping things honest, right?). Here are some more awesome books to check out:

Peek-a Choo-Choo!
Written and illustrated by Nina Laden

My rating: ★★★½

ISBN: 978-1452154732
Publisher: Chronicle
Date of publication: August 16, 2016
Age: 1 - 4 years
Format: library book

Themes: rhyming, die-cut pages, transportation

In this book, young readers play the classic game of peekaboo with vehicles! Colorful pictures and lively, rhyming text—featuring trains, planes, and a bonanza of boats—help children predict what is peeking through die-cut windows. Read the clue... guess the rhyme...giggle wildly...and repeat!

I review this purely on my daughter's recommendation. Yes, I realize she is only a year and a half, but I'm pretty sure her taste in books is quite evolved. Basically, we picked out this book together from the library and she reads it pretty much every night (yes, I said she reads it. Aloud. And she's a year and a half. I mean, k, it's not perfect, but she tries and therefore it's adorable. I'm not the least bit biased.). She adores this simple little rhyming book. The little peek-through pages allow for just enough of a hint and also highlights the sparse text. It's very colorful and engaging. Big round of applause from this reader, that's for sure. (And based on its condition, plenty of other kids have loved it, too.)

This is the fourth and most recent in the Peek-a Series. All follow the same precept of "peek-a-(insert something that rhymes with boo)" and have peek-through, die-cut pages. I've enjoyed the other books in the series. In this, the transportation-themed one, I personally thought that one or two of the rhymes were a bit of a stretch (e.g. "peek-a-blew" for traveling by hot air balloon) and I don't love the illustrations (they're a bit hard for me to distinguish at times). But based on my daughter's love, it's a pretty amazing book all around. Try it with your own tots and see!

Find it at your library or on Amazon

Places to Be
Written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Renata Liwska

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0062286215
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Date of publication: April 4, 2017
Age: 4 - 8 years
Format: library book

Themes: emotions, friendship, behavior

"We have so many places to be!
Places to be loud
and lovely
and scared
and jubilant.

"With an elegant simplicity, this picture book celebrates all our wide-ranging emotions—and the adventures that await us each day."

I'm a big fan of Mac Barnett, so I was surprised to simply find this in the library, having not heard of its release beforehand (maybe not a big push in marketing?). It is, though, a tad different than Barnett's usually humorous repertoire. Indeed, this is a very simply written, yet complexly conveyed sort of story. The illustrations carry the load of displaying just what Barnett means by different feelings for different places. One must infer a lot of the story.

On the one hand, I thus find the book very impressive. The illustrations have just the right amount of detail and emotion to convey some thoughtful topics. The sparse text allows for more of one's own thoughts and reflections. But on the other hand, it's not a quick, fun-to-be-had storytime book. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, to be sure. I would say this is a book best read one-on-one, to allow for lots of studying of the illustrations and discussion on just what sorts of places are best for different emotions that your own kids may feel.

Find it at your library or on Amazon

The Bad Guys
Written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-0545912402
Publisher: Scholastic
Date of publication: December 27, 2016 (originally published in Austrailia in 2015)
Age: Grades 2 - 4
Genre: Humor
Format: library book

Themes: animals, villiany, heroics, misconceptions, humor

"They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that.

"Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys' first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr. Snake please stop swallowing Mr. Piranha?!"

Super hilarious, simple, and fun book to be had. This is technically a chapter book, but with lots of illustrations, this is good for beginning readers (it almost has a graphic novel feel, with panels of illustrations on a page, lots of onomatopoeia, and having the story told through the dialog of the characters). Yes, I even snickered here and there, though I will admit my humor is pretty juvenile. Basically, I guarantee that given a reluctant reader or some fans of Captain Underpants, this book will be a surefire hit with lots of laughs. Is it pure literacy genius? Well, no. It's definitely looking more for a laugh than scholarly accolades. The climax is a bit rushed and the motivations are a bit hard to determine, but kids won't care about that. The characters are funny and unique, and their humor is what makes this one a winner. Definitely give this series a try (the fourth is coming out later this year).

Find it at your library or on Amazon

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