Dinosaur Countdown by Nicholas Oldland

3.5 stars Children’s

I liked how straight-forward this book was. It wasn’t busy, filled with unnecessary things or words, it stated the facts and that was it. This book counts down from ten to one and then on the final page, the author reminds us that, yes dinosaurs are extinct.

Each number is given a two-page spread and on those two pages you get a specific dinosaur, the number (1-10) and you get the number written our in words and you an adjective for that dinosaur . So, for 9: it reads 9 nine lazing deinosuchus and includes 9 of them on the page in their various shades of color. What? I don’t know what a deinosuchus is? But, I bet a few children do. There were included in this book, dinosaurs that I knew too. Now, I like dinosaurs but some of these dinosaurs have names that I haven’t heard before. At the back of the book, the author has included how to pronounce some of the dinosaur names, which does help.

It was an okay book but I think the pronunciations would have helped me more, if they were on the page with the dinosaur. I also didn’t care for the illustrations as they didn’t match the language of the book. I did like the added adjectives in the book and again, the simplicity of the book , I enjoyed. 3.5 stars

Up The Creek by Nicholas Oldland

5 star Children’s Picture Book

I think we all can relate to this book, even as adults.  Our dear friends bear, moose, and beaver are spending the day in the great outdoors but instead of listening to nature, they’re bickering.  Fighting over just about everything, as they spend the day canoeing together. 

I laughed as the friends ended up going around in circles, as they tipped their boat and as they encountered some scary waters but these three just couldn’t get along even after each struggle.  There were other adventures that these three had while on their canoeing trip and I smile just thinking of them.  The illustrations in this book are terrific as they work so well with the text.  This is a entertaining book yet it’s also one that has some important lessons tucked inside it.  

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

4 stars Children’s

I’m working my way through Dan Gemeinhart’s books and when I saw the cover of this book, my initial thought was that this would be an emotional, sweet story yet the synopsis told me something different.  Even after reading the synopsis, I wasn’t prepared for what I read. 

This was an emotional story about the love between a dog named Brodie and his boy. I liked how Dan wrote the story from the dog’s point of view. Like many people, I always talk to animals like they understand every word I say, and in Good Dog, the animals converse like humans. 

When Brodie awakens, words engulfed his mind.  He knew precisely what each word meant, yet he sensed that something was missing. Brodie didn’t know where he was, but he felt that this place where he was, was perfect. This was a dog’s paradise.  Sasha, another dog, explains to Brodie that he’s dead, that he used to have a life and knew people, and soon his memories would come and he would remember what his life was like before arriving there.

Brodie mind is soon flooded with words, memories and emotions as his previous life starts to come back to him.  Suddenly, that emptiness that Brodie had been feeling is filled.  A memory washes over Brodie and motivates him to leave his dog paradise and return to his boy.

Brodie is determined to return to his boy. To do so, he pays a price.  Returning to the human world, I had a hard time believing that this is a children’s book.  I liked the idea behind what happens but the details to make that happen, I thought were intense and alarming on a children’s level.  Perhaps on a middle school or YA level, they would be okay but not on a children’s level. 

I liked Brodie’s commitment to his boy and the friendships that he made. He had quite the journey.   There were moments that I found myself laughing, on-edge, and then, I had tears at 4 am this morning, it was an emotional story.  I enjoyed the author’s creativity and how the story ended.  There were a couple parts in the story, I was reluctant to read every word.  I skipped a few paragraphs.

I don’t think this is really a children’s book.  The violent description of the dog fighting is why I’m not giving it 5 stars.  The violence is rather descriptive for my taste in children’s book.  I liked the idea of the story; it was very creative.

“All this stuff (room full of books, old toys, video game system).  And the only thing the boy asked for was this picture of him and his dog.”

Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore

5 stars Children’s

Wow, the cover of this book doesn’t give this book the justice it deserves, I don’t think.  The story inside is breathtaking.  I had feared the worst but I knew it couldn’t be that bad considering it was a children’s book but this story had me.  It’s a charming, tantalizing story that will pull you in.

Deep in the jungle there lives Little Doctor who cares for the crocodiles that come to her.  Her pay?  Tales.  The crocodiles tell her amazing stories of escapes, horrible dangers and troubles that amaze Little Doctor. 

One day while working, one of the stories that she had heard arrived outside her door. SURPRISE! It was the biggest crocodile in the land! Only today, the mouth of this beast had its mouth clamped shut. He needs her help.

As Little Doctor went to work examining the Big Mean, the legend followed the doctor’s every move with its eyes, as she tried to find out what is wrong with the beast.  Boy, Little Doctor is a very good and fearless doctor!  When she goes to take her temperature, she is met with resistance.  Over and over again, she tries to get the large monster to open its mouth but she refuses. How can she finish her examination and found out what is wrong with Big Mean if she can’t take her temperature?  How can she get Big Mean to open her mouth? 

I liked the suspense and the mystery in this picture book.  You know there has to be a reason why Big Mean won’t open her mouth but what is it?  How can Little Doctor get a huge crocodile to open its mouth? The persistence of Little Doctor is great and I liked her facial expressions.  The illustrations are wonderful, as they are full of imagination.  Makes you wonder why we all didn’t become vets like we wanted to when we were little.

I loved it so much! The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-El

5 stars Children’s/Middle School

I absolutely loved The Very, Very Far North!  Immediately after finishing it, I had to know if this was going to be a series, as I didn’t want this to be the end of Duane and his adventures in the Far Far North.  This story captured my attention immediately and entertained me until I turned the very last page (make sure you read the letter from Duane at the very end).  Filled with engaging adventures and exciting stories, this book made me laugh, smile, and touched my heart.

It wasn’t until after I read the book, did I read what others thought of this book.  I have to agree with what many other readers reported, this book does have that Winnie the Pooh feel to it.  As Duane makes himself comfortable in his new home in the Very, Very Far North, Duane has that comfortable, quizzical state about him and the adventures that he has, are quite fun and enlightening.

Duane loves three things in life: napping, eating, and exploring.  For Duane, the polar bear, finding C.C. and the shipwreck was the perfect beginning for him.  He learns and forms so many great friendships in the Very, Very Far North, I’m so glad that he went.

As they have new experiences, met new friends, and help each other, I enjoyed that there was no major rivalry or conflicts between them.  Any struggles that they did have, were addressed, handled and then the parties dropped it.  I also liked that each individual in the book was different and had their own personality.  I really loved the way the book was written; it was reader friendly as the text spoke to you. I think young readers will enjoy this.

I can’t wait to read more about Duane, Major Puff, Magic, C.C., Sun Girl, Boo, Twitch, and Handsome in the next book. I’m really hooked on this book and think it would make a great read aloud for elementary-age children.  I can’t wait to share it with others. 

If you have young children, pick this one up.  If you have grandchildren or work in a school-setting with young children, this is one you will want to look into.  It definitely is a keeper!

“You or I might have responded to a polar bear crashing into our home with a little more alarm, perhaps. I won’t speak for you, but I would definitely have screamed at least once, or five times.”

Deep in the Ocean by Lucie Brunelliere

5 stars Children’s

https://deepintheoceansoundtrack.abrams.link/

Above is the soundtrack for the book. Listen to the soundtrack as you read the book – that is pretty sweet.

The illustrations are stunning in this oversized board book. You can’t help but stop reading the text and marvel at the bright colorful world in the ocean. I don’t really care who is in the submarine or what it’s doing deep in the ocean, it’s the colorful fish and ocean life that’s portrayed in this book that has captured my attention.

After looking and reading this book over and over again, I have to wonder who would read this book. I am hoping many people don’t overlook it because it’s a board book and associate that with being a baby book because they would be missing out. The text in this book is far from being a baby book as the language is deep and not your typical baby language. Words such as cuttlefish, trench, vampire squid, abyss, paradise, and anemone are not typical language found in these types of books. The book will definitely catch the eye of a baby as it is bright and has lots of contrasting colors. The text is geared more towards a reader and/or the parent.

It’s a beautiful book that takes you under the ocean as you travel along side a submarine as it makes its way through the water. You will see an abundance of fishes, coral and other water plants as you turn the pages. The text explains exactly what you see from beluga whales, to sea butterflies, to lantern fish, to a huge blue whale, to dolphins, just to give you a few examples. As you read, try to find the items. I think you will find more items than the text describes. The illustrations are not cartoonish nor are they realistic photos but they provide enough detail to look realistic.

I think this would make a great book for families with children of different ages, as it would provide the text for older readers and the illustrations for everyone to enjoy. It would be a great read aloud as the illustrations are fantastic and the text is educational and enough to get children involved. Also, this would be a great book for a child to grow into. A wonderful book for the whole family.

The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet

5 stars Children’s

These books are very popular at our library but I have never read one before. Bill Peet writes a whole series of these books and I found this one and purchased it as a gift. Of course, I had to read it before I wrapped it and now, I can see why he’s a popular author.

This is a longer children’s story but it wasn’t drawn out and boring but it kept my attention as there was a pattern to the story. I liked that as I read, I was predicting what would happen next, and as I got closer to the end, I was predicting what would happen and then, what happened was not what I expected at all! The ending was great and left a smile on my face but it was NOT what I expected, at all. The story also had a moral which, if you read with/to your child, is something else you can talk to your child about.

I also liked the illustrations in this book. I feel that they go with the feel of the text, as they’re not bright and bold illustrations but rather a nice, soft hue of colors. This book was copyrighted in 1972, but that doesn’t date the story or make the story less important.

The story begins with a tiny ant who had climbed up a blade of jungle grass so he could view the river. When the wind blew, that tiny ant was sent flying off into the rushing water. Luckily, before he was dragged further downstream, he spied a tree limb that was sticking straight out of the middle of the river. Ant grabbed a branch of that limb and climbed onto it. Safe for now, Ant was still stuck in the middle of the river. A mud turtle was walking along the shore and when Ant called out to him, he stopped. Ant asked Mr. Hardshell kindly, if he would swim out to give him a lift back to dry land. Mr. Hardshell explained to Ant that he had just been in the water. He then continued, if he helped everyone who needed him, he wouldn’t have any time to relax and with that, he trotted along.

Oh, Mr. Hardshell, if only you would have taken the time. The motion is now set for the book, as this mud turtle trots off to sun himself on a warm rock. Unfortunately, his day doesn’t go so well either. Now, Ant and Mr. Hardshell are experiencing difficult predicaments, I wonder who is next?

I’m going to have to read some of the other ones in this series. I picked up a good one.

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

5 stars Children’s

This is a cute color and counting story for young readers. I liked how you followed along in dog’s day as bright spots of colors appear on his white coat of fur. I also like the language this children’s book uses. Combining colors and counting, children are learning while also reading a cute story.

Dog is white with one black spot on his left ear. During his day, he travels around and spots appear on his fur as accidents occur around him. A bee buzzes by and swish a drop of yellow pollen falls on him, a splat of red jam from his owner’s breakfast table lands on him, and dog even steps on an orange juice container and it splurts a patch of orange on him. These are just a few examples from the book but don’t you just love everything that is happening here? The use of color, the counting, and the word language. The author uses great visual language and doesn’t use the word dropped or fell but uses splurts, splat, and swish.

I really like this book, it looks like a simple book but it’s very educational.

Big City Otto by Bill Slavin

4 stars Graphic Novel

I enjoyed the quick-paced story and the thought the illustrations were amazing.  It you take this story for what it is, a story, it’s a wonderful adventure and kids will think so too but if you have to analyze, you’ll probably be able to find a few things wrong with it, so just enjoy it.  It reminds me of some of the comics I used to read when I was younger.

Otto, the elephant misses his chum, Georgie. Georgie, (a monkey) was taken out of the jungle by the man with a wooden nose and Otto, like most elephants never forgot anything about the whole ordeal. Crackers, (parrot) his friend, helps Otto remember what happened that day and the two friends set off to try to find Georgie in America.

Aboard the metal bird (airplane), after being wrapped as a special and oversized package, the two land in America and begin their hunt.  Sure, they get some attention but it seems that spotting an elephant and a parrot on the streets, of a big city in America, is not that unusual.  The big question is, will they be able to find Georgie amongst all these people?

It was the adventure that these two friends had trying to locate Georgie that made this book so enjoyable.  Otto’s size caused quite a few crashes and their lack of understanding was humorous to me yet others didn’t see it that way.  Their love for one another was felt as they watched out for one another throughout their trip and they tried to fit in to their new surroundings, the best that they could. I loved how Crackers pushed and pushed to squeeze Otto into some of the smallest places for an elephant and I thought Otto’s allergy was extreme but I can see how kids would love it and laugh as the final scenes of this book processed.  The illustrations are bright and colorful, they really add to the story.

This was a fun and entertaining graphic novel designed for children.  Filled with interesting and humorous characters, I think young kids will enjoy this book.  If you’re ready for some childish, make-believe fun, pick this book up and be ready for anything.

CatStronauts Space Station Situation by Drew Brockington

4 stars Child’s Graphic Novel

I love cats and I’ve been looking at these graphic novels for a while now.  The CatStronauts are just what they sound like, cats who are astronauts.  Weird, yes but feasible in a kid-friendly world.  I enjoyed all the subtle cat references, the friendships, the easy flow of this graphic novel, and their adventure.

In this mission, Pom Pom is finished helping colonize Mars and is now meeting up with his team on the Space Station. The team will now try to repair the Hubba Bubba Telescope. Sounds easy enough for the CatStronauts until transmission problems arise and they can’t talk to ground control.  They discover that meteor showers are causing all the interference.  The problems just continue for the team as they try to fix one problem after another, until they discover that if they don’t act quickly, destruction on a massive scale is in their future. 

“What the fish is going on?!” These references were just part of the text, which made me smile as I read this book.  References to the kitty box, tuna, kitties, etc., caught my attention, although there really weren’t a whole lot of them.  I felt that they added to the charm of the book and to the characters, themselves. 

This graphic novel had a good flow to it.  There was enough action to keep me engaged and the illustrations were detailed and they complemented to the story.  I’m often asked what would be a great graphic novel to give to a young child and I think this one would fit the bill.  It’s a great child’s graphic novel for any level, I believe.  I’m going to pick up other books in this series to see what these cats are up to.

“Meow, meow, meow.”