Lenny the Lobster Can’t Stay For Dinner by Finn Buckley

5 stars Children’s

This is a cute book and I liked how the book was written, by a father and son team when the son was seven.  How cute is that? The story is written with two different endings and the reader gets to decide which ending they want to read. I liked the simplicity of the book yet, if you know nothing about eating lobster, I think you will have a hard time understanding the book.  It’s a fun story and I enjoyed it.

The story is about a lobster named Lenny who is thrilled to be invited to a dinner party.  Lenny, makes the perfect dinner guest, as when dressing for the party, he gets all snazzy and he brings gifts for everyone he thinks might be attending.

Arriving at the party, everyone is excited to see Lenny, perhaps too excited (you have to see the illustrations- they were hilarious!). They even offered Lenny a gift, which he was not expecting. At this point, Lenny should be questioning exacting what kind of party this is.  His gift can actually take on different meanings. Is Lenny optimistic or doesn’t he understand?  This begins the twist in the story. 

Before you go any further in Lenny’s story, you have to decide whether Lenny should stay or leave the dinner party.  Should he stay for the rest of the evening or should he turn around and walk out the door?

I, my friends, had Lenny walking out the door!  These people do not look very friendly towards poor Lenny, and he was really looking for a good time at this party.  To have Lenny leave the party, I had to move forward in the book to a different page.  How fun is this?  If I had chosen to have Lenny stay at the party, I would have just continued reading.

I liked how this book all came together.  It was a fun read and I really enjoyed the illustrations.  I thought the language was entertaining and children will enjoy it.  I like how there were only two options and I can see how this book would give children the idea of creating their own books based n this idea.  I think children who understand about lobsters will enjoy this book.

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.

The Love Letter by Anika Denise

5 stars Picture Book

What a sweet book! I loved how just this one love letter changed the lives of so many animals.

When Hedgehog finds a letter on the ground, he picks it up.  After reading it, he discovers it’s not just any letter, it’s a love letter and he believes that it’s been left for him.  Immediately, his mood changes and he’s having a great day.  After being a loving and helpful friend, the letter is accidentally dropped and picked up by one of his friends.

When Bunny finds the love letter, she believes that Hedgehog left it for her and she too changes just like Hedgehog did. Isn’t that the way it goes, though?  When you feel loved and appreciated, you feel great and helpful and feel like you’re walking on the clouds?

Bunny ends up accidentally dropping the letter also and the letter makes it rounds amongst the friends until all of them get it.  What a great day it was!   The next morning, as the friends gather again, they get a surprise when they discover who wrote the letter and who they wrote it to.

I loved how the illustrations matched the tone of the book.  They were soft and not loud; they complimented the text.  It’s a sweet book about friendship and family: about what really matters and how you should be about treating others.  Really a good book to have.   

Instructions by Neil Gaiman

4 stars Children’s

I had to read this book twice to fully appreciate it. The first time through, I think I got half the messages that this book wanted me to get. It also a book that I couldn’t rush through but I had to stop and fully absorb what I read on each page. The illustrations stopped me in my tracks a few times, as I thought they really didn’t match what I thought should go with the words on the page nevertheless, I enjoyed what I read. This book to me was a words-of-wisdom book as each page(s) was about making your way in the world.

The illustrations were just as great as the words in this book. They were fun to look at as they contained a lot of detail and there was the fantasy aspect of them. How can you go wrong with trolls, cats, and beasts? Written by Neil Gaiman, this is what brought me to pick up this one.

Roly Poly by Mem Fox

4 stars Children’s Picture Book

What a cute story!  Roly Poly is living a terrific life with his mom and dad.  He has everything he has ever wanted.  Then, one day a stranger appears in his bed and now, this stranger invades his space ALL THE TIME!

I liked how innocent Roly Poly’s little brother Monty was.  He followed Roly Poly around, it seemed as though, Monty just wanted to be with his big brother.  Roly Poly didn’t see it that way though and he was rather annoyed, until one day Monty needed his help.   Roly Poly tried to ignore Monty’s again (like he’d been doing) but he just couldn’t and well, the ending is really sweet.

It’s a delightful book and I think most kids will really like it and I think it’s a great book for families.  I did wonder about why little Monty was sharing a bed with Roly Poly. Would older children question this same thing (cribs, beds, etc.)? Then again, all families do some things differently and perhaps this is just something this family does.The illustrations were fun and I enjoyed looking at all the details that were put into some of them. The text is bold and easy to read.  Would make a good read aloud. 

Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

I loved this book!  Absolutely loved this wordless book! I don’t usually love wordless, picture books so much but this one won my heart.

It’s told like a silent movie which opens up with Part 1: The Pet.  It begins with a boy and a dog. The illustrations are black-and-white except for the dog which is portrayed as a red, balloon dog.  The boy is so happy to have the dog!  We see him walking out the circus tent with his dog on the end of a string.  He teaches the dog tricks and goes to the vet. In Part ll: The Park, the boy takes his dog to the park where the boy realizes that his dog is fragile and might get popped! Oh no! He tries to hold onto his dog but……later, we see the boy chasing him throughout the park. 

In Part lll: The Party, the duo is still running through the park and they run into a kid’s birthday party being held in the park.  I’m holding my breath as he chases his dog through the festivities.  What happens in the end, I can’t tell you, I won’t tell you!  Please don’t peak at the ending for it will spoil the whole fun of the book.  It was wonderful, truly magnificent book, I thought!  High praises for this wordless, picture book!   5 stars

The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come by Sue Macy

5 stars Nonfiction Children’s

One man’s mission helps millions.  This nonfiction book speaks volume on so many levels.  Aaron wanted to preserve his grandmother’s books which started a mission that ended up saving over a million books. He united individuals, he helped save a language, he showed what one person can do, he is bringing back a language, and he is helping people connect.

Aaron couldn’t forget how his grandmother’s journey from Eastern Europe to the U.S. ended. The few treasured possessions that she had carried with her, were now gone yet Aaron wondered about her. His college studies would draw him closer to his grandmother’s past as he realized that he needed to learn a new language to read books for one of his classes.  Finding Yiddish books were difficult so Aaron returned to his hometown where he stumbled upon his first stack of Yiddish book which started his collection.  I thought it was interesting that the Rabbi was going to bury the books (which is a sign of respect) before Aaron arrived.

Aaron began graduate school in Canada and soon his apartment was flooded with donations of Yiddish books.  He transported all the books back to Massachusetts and he didn’t give up even after talking to some important people in the Yiddish community.

I like how there are Yiddish words in the text with a glossary in the back of the book to help you figure out the meaning.  The illustrations were well done and compliment the informative and interesting text.

Don’t forget to read the afterword and note from the author, the illustrator’s note which are included at the back of the book also.  He also included (at the back of the book) a few sites if you want more information on this topic.

Aaron’s energy, ambition, and compassionate is felt through this book both in words and in the illustrations.  It’s inspiring to see how one individual can make such a difference in the world. This book is really fantastic and should be read. I highly recommend it! 5 stars

The Red Zone: An Earthquake Story by Silvia Vecchini

3 stars Children’s

This graphic novel addresses the issues an earthquake has on young children. Torn from their homes, these children have to deal with the issues of the unknown as their community tries to rebuild.

I liked how the novel immediately begins with some powerful action. Mother Nature begins unleashing her power upon the community, leaving its citizens left to fend for themselves. We follow Matteo, Giulia, and Federico as they learn to live with the aftermath of the destruction.

The devastation from the quake is massive. The citizens are warned not to enter the “Red Zone” but to some that zone is their life and contains everything they have. How can you tell someone to stay away from the only possessions they have?

A make-shift school is immediately constructed while the community tries to rebuild. Why is it taking so long to move forward? What are they supposed to do in the meantime? Each family tries to rebuild their lives and get some structure into their lives, to the best of their ability, but it’s hard when all your possessions are in the “Red Zone.”

I really liked the idea of this graphic novel and I thought, the illustrations were fantastic. We are experiencing more weather-related catastrophes lately and having children understand them is important. The illustrations were bright, colorful and had a great flow. I liked everything about this novel but I thought it was missing a few things. I really had no connections to the characters as I had no background on them. I wished I had known something about them and/or their relationships with other individuals in the novel, so I knew exactly the emotional toll this disaster played on their lives. I know that any tragedy is hard but I felt that my character and emotional connection was not fully engaged while reading this novel. I think this is a good novel to share with children, it’s a good starting point.

Snack Attack! by Terry Border

4 stars Children’s

I liked it but it didn’t wow me, like I thought and hoped it would. I liked how the three snacks played together but wasn’t it smart Cookie who found the note? I thought it was interesting how Cheese Doodle came up with the interesting ideas and Pretzel was the scared one. Cookie was still the smart one who kept telling Cheese Doodle how his ideas wouldn’t work and then, what happens at the end? Oh, Smart Cookie….I’m sorry

I thought it was a cute story but maybe I’m reading more into the story than I need to be. The pictures were fun and I do hope there is another book that follows this one, as I need to know what happens next.

The Space Walk by Brian Biggs

3 stars Children’s

This book was different. I guess I expected more than what I got from this book.

I liked the color contrast between the inside of the spaceship and space. The inside of the spaceship is a light gray and space is bright and colorful. The idea behind the story is great. I liked the ideas of being out in space, the idea of aliens or unknown beings in space, making friends with other beings, and taking pictures in space.

I wasn’t a fan of the drawings of space nor of the colors of the planets. They looked too cartoonish or like bouncy balls. I thought the depth of the story could have been deeper, or the author could have elaborated on a few of the items that he touched on. I also wasn’t a fan of all the wordless pages in the middle, as I thought there were a lot of them.

This was a children’s book about Randolph taking a spacewalk. Clearing the walk with Ground Control, Randolph must do a few things before taking his walk out in space. When Randolph finally makes his way outside the spaceship, what does he see? This spacewalk is one that Randolph will remember. When he makes his way back into the spaceship, Randolph asks Ground Control if he can take another walk tomorrow.