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.

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.

Monster’s Come Out Tonight by Frederick Glasser

5 Stars Children’s

I really like flap books. Call me a kid-at-heart but I like lifting a tab and seeing what is underneath it. I have an Elmo book that the tabs are pretty well used up but it’s a keeper as my 6-year-old granddaughter still loves to look at it. This Halloween flap book is one that I am going to have to purchase as I am loving it!

There are monsters that are ready to go out Trick-or-Treating on Halloween and they’ll be coming out of their own special places in this book. Skeletons will be coming out their coffins, witches will be coming out of houses, and ghosts will be coming out from behind bookcases but this is just a few of the monsters in this board book.

This is a rhyming board book that each monster has their own 2-page spread. As a young mummy gets ready for the night, he has to place the key in the sarcophagus and as I pull the tab, I find more mummies ready to head out with him for the night.

There’s so much to love about this book. The illustrations are bright, colorful and there’s plenty to look at on each page. The tabs are easy to pull and find. The monsters are not scary but they’re identical to the ones on cover of the book. The book’s text makes sense and the rhymes work. There are a lot of pages in the book so it’s worth the money and who says that this book is only for Halloween. This is one book I am purchasing.

Shhh! I’m Reading by John Kelly

3 stars Children’s

This was a cute, oversized, children’s book with very busy illustrations. The illustrations alone are worth checking this book out. From pirates, to penguins, to an octopus named Flabulon, this book’s illustrations are fun to look at and admire. The story I thought was just okay, as I wished Bella would have acted differently.

The book centers around a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. Bella normally plays with her toys on Sundays but today, Bella is absorbed into reading her book. One-by-one her toys approach her to ask if she is ready to play their normal Sunday activities with her but each time, she tells them that she can’t play today as she is reading. Bella gets more annoyed and angrier as the toys approach her.

The illustrations show the amazing time that Bella has with each of the toys, as they each reminisce playing with her, as they talk with her about playing. Bella though, continues to read her book. The toys then gather in the corner by her bookshelf, taking five and trying to be quiet as Bella commanded them to do, just waiting for her to be finished. Why she couldn’t read out-loud to them or be nicer to them, I don’t know but I thought she was rather rude and mean to them.

So, what will happen when she’s done reading? Will her toys want to play with her then? You’ll be surprised.

Just Because by Mac Barnett

5 Stars Children’s

I fell in love with this book after the first few pages.  The sweet, calm fashion of this book had soon expanded and now, I was feeling the same way.  The situation was all too familiar for me and if only I could turn back time, it could have been me in that room, answering those questions.

Everything in this book made it perfect for me.  The way the book was laid out, its illustrations, and its text; everything had its proper place and time.   

As I watched the adult male in the illustrations, I liked how his movements changed from one illustration to the next.  I think his movements added a great deal to the book.  There are other small changes that were taking place in this bedroom scene, changes that were very important, changes that our eyes noticed automatically.

The questions that the young child asked, reminded me of ones that my own children would inquire about when they were younger. The constant questioning, the layer-upon-layer of mindful thinking. When would they stop? The answers came back in a creative response.  The adult even linked some of his responses together.  With fantastic illustrations in mixed-media tones, the illustrations complement the tone of the text, and they make you stop and take notice of them.   

A brilliant and sweet book, a book that I cannot get enough of.  It’s definitely a book that you’ll want to share.  

Link to the beautiful illustrations so you can view them yourself

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.