The Invisible Alphabet by Joshua David Stein

3 stars Children’s

This book is very creative.  By itself, I don’t think the book is a hit but grouped with other books, I liked it.  I think by itself, it’s boring and I don’t think most young children will find it appealing yet if you group this book with other ABC books or other black/white books or other books with a theme, you’ll have something.  On the other hand, older teens might like the book and find it humorous.   

The author created this ABC’s children’s book with mainly black and white illustrations.  Adding just a bit of orange color to each illustration, the author gives each letter of the alphabet at least one page in this book.  The words selected for each letter are what sets this book apart from other ABC books, as his concepts are centered around “gone.”  Whether that be physically gone, permanently gone, or just the concept of being gone, something on the page is missing.  N is for Nothing and that blank page says it all.  S is for Secret and by the look on the children’s faces on this page, that secret was a good one.     

While flipping through this book, I thought of a great activity to use with this book.  How about having your students/child create their own ABC book, using the opposites of this book. This would be a fun, entertaining challenging for you also as there are plenty of different words you could use for each letter in this book.  Example: O if for Out in this book. For your own book, you could use P is for Plenty, E is for Enough, T is for Too much, etc.  I think this would be an interesting activity for an extension on this book. 3 stars.   

What! Cried Granny an Almost Bedtime Story by Kate Lum

5 + stars Children’s

This book is hilarious!  Granny is amazing and Patrick innocence is charming.   I didn’t like the illustrations when I first read the book but after looking at them, they fit the book.  The illustrations are quirky and different.  It most definitely should be read at bedtime and then, read it anytime!

Patrick is spending the night at his Granny’s house for the very first time.  It’s getting dark so Patrick is asked to get ready for bed.   But there is a problem.  Remember, this is Patrick’s first time staying over with his Granny, so he doesn’t have a bed.  Big problem?  Nope!  Granny runs out the door, chops down one of the tall trees growing in the yard, takes it to her workroom and creates Patrick a bed with her tools.  Wowza!  She did all that while carrying her purse on her arm.  Granny now has blue paint splattered on her apron from painting the bed but with the red mattress on it, Patrick is ready! 

But wait, Granny mentions a pillow and Patrick doesn’t have one.  WHAT?   Yep, Granny to the rescue!  Granny does have some chickens, some cloth, thread and a needle.  A little later, Patrick has a pillow!    Do you see how this book is set up?  It’s so comical.  Granny is running around getting things ready so Patrick can go to sleep and Patrick, well he’s playing with a variety of toys and watching TV., waiting for Granny. Now, that Patrick has a pillow, Granny tells Patrick to climb into his bed (has that now), lay his head on his pillow (got that now), pull the blanket up (WHAT, no blanket yet), AND ……. (off we go again)

This is a hoot!  Granny is amazing, she can do almost anything!  Patrick is so lucky to have her.  I’m going to have to find a copy of this book.  It’s a keeper. 

To listen to the story:

Oh No, George! By Chris Haughton

4.5 stars Children’s

I think everyone, children and adults, can relate to George. He has the best intentions but sometimes, he just can’t resist going against them. This was a funny story and George’s expressions and eyes captured my attention on each page and just knowing some background information about dogs made the story more entertaining.

George lives with Harry and George told Harry he would be very good as Harry is headed out the door. Left alone, Harry hopes he’ll be good but eyeing that big cake sitting on the kitchen counter is just too much for George. Oh, George thinks about what he told Harry but he knows how he feels about cake and “What will George do?” Yep! I hope Harry didn’t have special plans for that cake. As I walked along with George in the house, I heard about all the other things that George loved in the house (all the other temptations that were lingering in the house for him) and how George actually managed being home by himself.

I loved the excitement on George’s face when Harry returns! You could feel the love and enthusiasm. As Harry made his way around the house with George right beside him, the look on both of their faces, priceless. The rest of the story is cute and George tries so hard as he loves Harry so much. A cute story with bright simple illustrations. 4.5 stars

2 x 2 = Boo! A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories by Loreen Leedy

4 stars Nonfiction Picture Book

 A cute picture book about math featuring some Halloween characters.  I liked the way the math facts are presents in the book, the repetition of the same number so the child can see a pattern taking place and I liked how the illustrations reinforce that same scenario.  I like how each chapter is devoted to one specific number.   The way that the characters try to explain multiplication is not confusing but give the reader a visual, a number sentence and an explanation.   Great illustrations also.   This book only covers the multiplication facts from 1-5 so don’t expect something like 1 x 7 because the highest this book covers is 5 x 5.  This is not a scary book, if you are worried about that.

Ship in a Bottle by Andrew Prahin

5 stars Children’s

Living together, cat and mouse had some issues.  Mouse had some things that she liked to do yet she never could do them alone.  Cat, on the other hand, had only one thing on his mind, he wanted to eat mouse! This was hilarious in the book, as I loved how the author made this contrast stand out.  Cat was constantly watching and spying on Mouse, making Mouse feel uncomfortable and scared.  Searching for a better life, Mouse set sail in her ship in a bottle. 

In the beginning, this new life was fantastic for Mouse. The river was quiet and tranquil, and Cat was not there watching her every move.  Then, they dropped out the sky!  Seagulls!  Her quiet ride down the river was gone and Mouse’s hunt for a new home is underway. 

I thought this was a cute book as Mouse goes on quite an adventure for the perfect home.  The illustrations are fantastic and you will love Mouse by the end of the book as she finds her perfect home and she adjusts to her new friends.  “And whenever the sun’s rays warmed the ground, Mouse would find a tiny little spot of her own and stretch out, without a care in the world.”  Make sure you check out the last illustration in the book, it was adorable.  A really fun read.      

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

4 stars Middle School

I listened to this book on audio and I really enjoyed the voices. I don’t know why I picked up this book, it must have been the title and the synopsis that lured me in.  I enjoy Star Wars but I can’t say that I’m a huge fan but I can say that I’ve known my share of students in school who stood out as being “different.” 

I thought Dwight was rather creative.  As the voice of Yoda, what advice does he actually give to those who call upon him?  What stake does Yoda have in the lives of the individuals around him? What a creative way for Dwight to find his way into the lives of his peers.  I thought the book was rather interesting and said a lot about Dwight.  Not having any illustrations to look at, I think that I processed this book differently than someone who actually read and looked at the illustrations.  Fun, entertaining, and short story. I highly recommend the audio. 4 stars

The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan

5 stars Children’s

I had to laugh when I saw this book in the library, for what do you do when you have a whale in your swimming pool? For this little boy, he does about everything he can to get the whale out but eventually, he makes the best of the situation. Definitely a book to read in the summer as it will bring smiles to those who have the pleasure to hear it.

“Whoa…a whale?!” What a reaction to have as you arrive at your backyard pool ready to cool off. Right in front of this little boy is a humongous blue whale sitting on his little polka-dotted pool. There are also a few birds perched on the whale’s tail and a small squirrel who is behind the whale, staring up at him with a look of amazement on his face. With his mother in the backyard with him, he tries to tell his mother about the whale but his mother, deeply involved inside her book on her lawn chair, he doesn’t get the respond he was expecting. She mentioned sunscreen and well, the little boy is now taking matters into his own hands.

I laughed at all the different methods he used to get the whale out of his pool. He’s very creative. Finally, when he thinks he’s had enough and the whale can just have his pool, he comes up with a solution that both of them can be winners. But wait, is his day really over? The last page will put a huge smile on your face. Fantastic book – I’m glad I found this at the library!!

Frankenstein Doesn’t Wear Earmuffs! by John Loren

5 stars Children’s Halloween

Ah, mom!  This book is cute, funny, and definitely a keeper! I think everyone will be able to relate to something that happens to the little boy inside this book and it’ll make you smile.  This rhyming book is geared towards Halloween, but it should be read throughout the year because it’s so entertaining.

On the inside book cover, there’s a play-by-play of a young boy getting himself all dressed up for trick-or-treating as Frankenstein.  Ready to go, the narration begins with a dark, spooky night which I imagined, was what the young boy was imagining inside his head.  As he emerges out of the bathroom, to head out into the dark and stormy night, he hears, “HOLD IT!”

It’s his father and he’s holding a pair of his old, red galoshes.  Afraid of rain, dad wants him to wear them.  O.K.! Wearing the giant, floppy boots he tries again to leave, when, “HANG ON!” Only this time, it’s his mom. She’s holding not 1, but 3 items that she wants him to wear before he heads out the door because she’s concerned about the weather. O.K.! Frankenstein is starting to look really silly now in all this gear.  This exchange between the young boy and his parents continues, the young boy just wants to have a fun Halloween.

This is a super book. The illustrations are fantastic and I liked how they flash between the boy dressed-up as Frankenstein and Frankenstein, himself.  The rhyming works throughout the book and ending was great. 5 stars!!

Lift by Minh Le

4.75 stars Children’s Picture Book

Ha! This picture book is definitely a fun one and one you could have a good time with.  Iris got mad when things changed in her normal routine but then, she found a solution.  Little did she know that solution would lead her on magical journeys that began in her own bedroom. 

Iris loved to push the elevator buttons in the apartment building that she lived in with her family.  It always made her happy and she could count on it to cheer her up.  Whenever they needed to push one of the elevator buttons, Iris would step right up and DING, she’d push the correct button.     

She doesn’t know what happened that Thursday but once her family got inside the elevator to go up to their apartment, her little brother reached right over and pushed the elevator button before Iris had a chance.  WHAT!! Her brother was so proud and excited and her parents, well…. they had the same reaction.  Iris, she was mad! Then, on Friday when they left their apartment and again, got inside the elevator, her brother reached over and pushed the button AGAIN!  Oh, the look on Iris’ face!  I loved this part!!  She doesn’t hold back her anger, nope! What does she do? Yell? Scream? Iris reaches over and she pushes all the buttons and her family stops on all the floors.  This, my friend, I can see happening.  How does everyone on the elevator feel now?  I liked this part of the book as it shows through the text and the illustrations a lot about the characters.

When they finally reach the lobby, there’s a repair man fixing the other elevator. He’s currently replacing the elevator’s wall button and Iris notices when he throws the broken button in the trash can.  Ah!  Yep, Iris quickly grabs the broken elevator button and she shoves it into her coat pocket.  I liked how most of this activity is told without words. Following the text boxes, the illustrations tell the story.  Once home and safety behind her bedroom door, Iris takes the broken elevator button out of her pocket.  After grabbing some tape, she tapes it up on her wall.  She pushes the button (just for good measure)and starts to walks away when “DING!”

Don’t you love it?  I would love to read this to a child or to a classroom and see what they think is going to happen next because it’s time to turn the page and then, Iris has an amazing adventure.  Iris does return to her family’s apartment for just a bit and then, Iris is ready and we hear a DING!

I really loved this book and I have to get a copy of this.  I love how it opens up the avenue for discussions and possibilities.  I liked how Iris got angry and how she dealt with it, it was honest and representative of how some children might handle that situation, I think.  I wished her parents would have said something to her about her behavior, not a lecture but something to address it.  I thought her adventures were fun and entertaining and I think, children will like them too.  The illustrations in this book are fantastic. The detail and the colors really bring out the story.  It’s a mixture of a story book and wordless book as there were pages that didn’t have any words and you just had to follow the pictures to understand the storyline.  Iris’ feelings towards her brother were fitting and her actions at the end of the book were really sweet.  This is definitely a good book to read to the children in your life.  4.75 stars  

Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Synder

5 stars Children’s picture book

How hilarious! I’m still laughing about this one! This counting picture book is so cute and fun! I don’t know where to begin on this review as there were many things that stood out in this book. I’ll begin by saying that I had to read this multiple times. Just reading it once doesn’t do this book justice, you have to stop and savor the illustrations. I compared the illustrations which made the book more hilarious. I’ll definitely have to get this one to read to my grandchildren.

When dog spies the gate open, he goes for it and he escapes out of the yard. Dog thinks he’s being sneaky, going undetected, yet we spy cat, watching him out the window drinking her coffee. Dog jumps on the back of a trike which is driven by a poodle who has also escaped and now, we have “two dogs on a trike.” As we turn the page, this duo now jumps on a scooter being driven by another escaped dog which makes “three dogs on a scooter.” I loved watching the dog’s actions and their faces as they continued on their way. They were having the time of their life, even the dog wearing the lamp shade. It makes me laugh now, just thinking about it. The story gets even better because I haven’t mention who else is in the picture. Cat. Leaving her coffee and house slippers behind, Cat has been trailing the dog and all of his buddies since he left the yard. It was a hoot to see Cat, in her own various means of transportation secretly spying on the dogs as he makes his journey in various mode of transportation too.

Each step of dog’s journey, another dog is added until the count gets up to ten and then, the story reverses and it counts back down. It’s more than a counting book, it’s a fun adventure!

I loved the energy and creativity that was put into this book. I couldn’t help laughing at the dogs while they were on their journey and then, seeing cat who was spying on them, not that far away. When the book starts counting backwards, the reactions from the dogs have changed. Comparing the same numbers from counting up to counting down was entertaining and comical. I have to thank the author for leaving the ending of this book open. I really like it when an author sets up a book and then leaves something for the reader to ponder that’s not a huge cliffhanger.

I really enjoyed this book! I think children will love this book also. I can also think of many applications of how to build off this book at home or in the classroom. From having your child come up with their own numbers book based on this concept, to having your child finish the book where the author left off, to having a child use different modes of transportation or animals. This was a super book!!

Here is the author being a Special Guest Stay at Home Storytime Reader at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and reading Two Dogs on a Trike: