We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

5 stars Children’s

Ahhhh, the ending of this book is just super. I don’t really think you need to read these books in order to enjoy them, as I feel each book in this series is super, all on their own. I do recommend that you look, I mean really look at the illustrations on each page as they really do compliment the story. In this story, two turtles come across a cowboy hat and they each try it on. Right off, you notice that these turtle look identical, so when they each slip on the hat, it looks great on both of them.

They realize they need to do something different now, as there is only one hat and two individuals who would like to own the hat. I liked how the friends tried to do different things to take their minds off the hat and how they acted towards each other after they discovered the problem they were having. Super cute story with simple text that I really enjoyed.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

5 stars Children’s

Ha! Now that was a hoot! I loved how confident little fish was during the whole book. He sure was full of himself and his abilities. He actually stole a hat from a bigger fish and then, wore it upon his head. He then, justified his actions, leaving us readers having to decide which side of the argument you wanted to believe. Did you believe what little fish was telling you? Did little fish have all the correct information? Super cute book that even little children will like when they’re old enough to follow a story.

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.  

One Wild Christmas by Nicholas Oldland

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

We catch up with our dear friends bear, moose, and beaver in this sweet book, as they are celebrating their favorite holiday, Christmas.  As the friends get ready to celebrate, they learn a few important lessons about each other and about life.

I adore Nicholas’ books.  There is something about the characters, the lessons that they teach, and the way the illustrations bring everything together that makes these books special to me.  Using these three different animals, they each have their own special talents and characteristics which play an important role in the books. Each book teaches subtle lessons about life as the story unfolds.  These books are gems.

In this story, as the friends get ready for Christmas, they realize that they are missing an important piece of their Christmas together.  Quickly, the trio rushes out into the forest.  After looking at other options, bear spots the perfect tree! This tree is exactly what they are looking for! Bear’s friends agree, and beaver gets ready to do his job. Wait! Bear doesn’t want to have beaver chew down the tree.  Beaver can’t chew down this tree! Beaver and moose know the tree must come down so they can take it home but bear says, no.  What are the three friends going to do about this beautiful tree if they can’t agree.

I enjoyed how the friends worked together and how bear solved the problem.  I thought it was sweet how the friends all enjoyed bear’s solution.  The illustrations are colorful, fun, and cute to look at.  I also like the physical size of this book as I feel that they are a good fit for smaller hands and they’re perfect for lap sharing.   A great children’s picture book.   

Last Couple Standing by Matthew Norman

4.5 stars Fiction

This was not the story that I had expected to read when I picked up this book.  I was expecting the story to be more humorous and reckless but it wasn’t.  The story didn’t make light of the situations that these individuals were in, these characters were realistic and natural. I found myself enjoying this book more than I thought I would.

They call themselves the Core Four. From college graduation, to attending each other weddings, to moving out to the suburbs together, these four individuals have been together through it all. It’s like one big extended family, as all the spouses and kids all get along.  It seems like a perfect world for these individuals until one of the couples decides that their marriage is over.  The “d” word has shattered this image. 

This news shakes the group and I immediately start thinking, “the grass always looks greener on the other side.”  I know that others in their group will start to follow them soon but many questions run through my head.  Will they all divorce?  Will they turn on one another? They’ve been together a long time as a group, will they stay together?  What if “the grass is not greener?”  What is dating like now? They won’t start dating each other, will they?

It wasn’t long before, three out of the four couples divorced or had started the process of divorcing and only one couple remained with their wedding rings still on. Whew! One couple made it!! But wait, it’s not over yet.  The couple has started contemplating their position now.  Do they really want to be married?  Do they really love each other?  Divorce is such an extreme option but what other choice do they have?  

This book was a reality check. I liked how the group stayed together and how they tried to help each other when events in their life changed.  Being unmarried and single seemed like a great idea, yet they didn’t really see the whole picture. As they projected their positive image to others, what was really going on inside? The options available to them as an uncommitted adult looked wonderful and exciting, until they lived it. The married couple and the choice that they made; I kept wondering how long it was going to last.  I could feel this couple’s emotions as they tried to carry through with their plans but there were other things they were contending with. 

I really enjoyed how realistic this book felt. Nothing was over-the-top and the characters each had their own identity.  I laughed and smiled as the characters moved through their life, trying to make the best of their choices and their situations. A great story with interesting characters.  

Goodnight Zoom by Andy Ankowski

4.5 stars Humor

Many of you will be able to connect with this adult spin-off of the beloved Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, as we each try to manage the coronavirus in our own homes.  The room becomes command-center, hosting a variety of items the family needs now that they are stationed at home.  A mask, delivery boxes, and work stations for everyone in the home including one with Zoom online are just a few of the items that are scattered around the room. 

Some of the subject matter is not for younger readers but that’s my own opinion. It’s a creative, entertaining story with entertaining illustrations that’ll put a smile on your face. An enjoyable book for older readers. 4.5 stars

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.

F**k, Now There Are Two of You by Adam Mansbach

4 stars Adult Humor

I didn’t think this book was as good as the first book. I really struggled with the rhyming aspect in this book as I had to really slow down and say each word before I was able to get the rhyming to work for me. What I did like in this book was the illustrations and the message that the text was getting across (aside from the curse words).

Just when you thought you had things under control and you could go out in public w/o taking half your house with you or knowing that you could actually go eat at restaurant for about an hour, w/ an individual who brings you food, you decide that your life is too quiet and you have another baby. I’m sure that was your first thought, right? You think about the individuals who have their children close together and wonder, how can they handle all those kids in diapers and then you, wait until things have calmed down at home and the add another baby to your house and now, things are crazy again and calm is a word in the dictionary.

In this book, the parents have just found out that they’re pregnant again. Their son will not be getting all their attention anymore and they knew there might be some behavior issues yet as you read, their son becomes quite a handful. The whole family must now make adjustments for the baby as he arrives and makes his presence known. Meanwhile, their son is also making his presence known. There are some sweet moments and the parents love their children but with two children on two different schedules, the parents are running out of energy.

The illustrations show the love and chaos that families face. Many of the illustrations made me laugh as I remember trying to juggle my own kids. I think the text and illustrations worked for me and if I didn’t try to rhythm, I liked the book.

The book brought back a lot of memories. Trying to juggle my own kids and not lose it. I think it helped when I tried to walk in my kid’s shoes. So, would it be okay to play in the mud? Be messy with my food? Draw on the walls? How about give them a place where they can draw (a big section of space)? Sometimes, there is a time and a place for these activities (boundaries).

Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

5 stars Fiction

This is definitely not a kid’s book so please don’t leave it lying around so kids can peek inside its pages because the language inside is not for their eyes. I laughed as I read along and at times, I had trouble keeping up with the rhymes that made up this story but that was okay, because I totally understood exactly what the author was trying to get across. Why won’t my child go to sleep?

What I found so funny in this book was the mixed message located in the text that I read it. I liked how the author mixed the sweet, tender and picturesque moments of childhood with the exasperation of an adult. The adult uses some harsh language in the book and his frustration builds as the evening grows longer as the child continues to stay up. Adding to that, I remember all too well, having the same experiences that the author is referring to in this book.

The book begins with sweet cats and their kittens and sheep with their lambs nestled down to slumber with the adult wondering why their child will not sleep in their warm, cozy bed. The adult’s frustration is emphasized with a swear word on that page, which grabs your attention, as that line didn’t follow the previous gentle tone.

The adult does many things in the book to get their child to go to sleep, like many of us have, all the while getting more frustrated as their child prolongs going to bed.

I loved the part where the adult actually nods off as their child runs down the hallway. Who is guilty of this, raise your hand? Then it finally happens, their child has fallen asleep and all is well until, what? Oh no! the nightmare continues…….

It’s a very funny book and I raced through it the first time and then, I read it a couple more times just enjoying it for the moments it took me back in time to when my children where little. There are quite a few swear words but the laughs I had were well worth it. The illustrations were different, they weren’t what I expected. They definitely didn’t take-away from the text. A few individuals I know people have heard this book before, as a few famous individuals have read it out-loud on TV and/or on radio. I hadn’t heard it before until now.

You Tube video of Go the f**k to sleep, read by Samuel L Jackson on 6/4/16

Middle School Misadventures by Jason Platt

3 stars Graphic Novel

The illustrations were great but I just couldn’t get into the story. The colorful, brilliant illustrations really jumped off the pages and I really thought this graphic novel was going to be a hit. It was the story itself that just didn’t make any sense to me as I read it but I continued reading it, as I liked the illustrations.

Let’s begin with the story and then, end this review on a positive note, the illustrations.  The story was about a middle-schooler Newell who is signed up for his school’s first talent show. Newell spends countless hours trying to come up with a talent that he can showcase and its really painful, as he can’t find anything.

Why doesn’t he just cross his name off the list?  If he doesn’t perform, he’ll have to attend summer school.  Yes, I found this weird.  The principal is offering the students the opportunity to exchange the academics of summer school or the punishment of detention, if they perform in this show. Newell was scheduled for Summer School, so he’s excited to do something/anything for this show but he needs to find something worthy.

The book is funny and sometimes, I thought, just a bit on the weird side. I wanted Newell to just move on, perhaps experiment with something(s) and let’s see how he does instead of just talking/thinking about it[S1] .

The illustrations are action-packed and tell a great deal of the story.  A variety of text fonts add a great deal to the action. The colors are vivid and the rich in detail and burst from the page.

I feel there’s a lot of talent here and I would like to see what else this author can provide to us readers in the future.