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.      

Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee

3 stars Children’s

While this book has fantastic illustrations and the stories that the father tells his young son are sweet and emotional, I felt disconnected from the characters in the story.  I loved the idea behind this story but it felt as if the characters were telling the story, not actually living out the story on the pages. 

While mother writes in the living room, father does the dishes in the kitchen and their young son plays with his toys on the kitchen floor.  Suddenly, the young boy is tugging on his dad’s shirt and dad immediately knows that his son wants to see his tattoos because “you always want to see my tattoos.”   I didn’t understand the next illustration as now, the young boy is hanging off the back of his father as he looks at the tattoo on his father’s shoulder.   Did he climb up the back of his father?   If his father picked him up, why didn’t he just hold him to let him see it?  It looks as if the young boy is holding onto his father’s bare shoulder as he explains the tattoo.  Doesn’t that hurt and is the son that strong to hold on that long?  The text on the next page annoyed me also as it feels like I’m only hearing part of the conversation: “Did she read it to me over and over and over?     She sure did.”  So, we don’t hear the young boy speak.   

As father explains each tattoo to his young son, I enjoyed the stories that accompanied the tattoos but I didn’t like just hearing the father talk.  I wanted to actually hear what the son had to say, I wanted to feel his reactions.  Throughout the whole text, the young son doesn’t say anything in the text, yet somehow the father hears him and answers his questions in the text.  This annoyed me.

With wonderful illustrations and great stories that explain the father’s tattoos, this book did frustrate me when not all the main characters were given a voice in the text.     3 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!!

Rookie Toddler Board Books

5 stars Toddler Board Book

This is a cute board book that will fit perfectly into the hands of little toddlers. There is a lot to love about this book starting with the little half-circle tabs on the side of the book, to help little fingers turn each of the pages. The animals featured inside the book, are realisitcally portrayed. They’re not cartoon pictures or outline drawing of the animals but they include quite a bit of detail.

If the child is just learning their animals sounds or if they are experts, this is a great book for them to read. It’s a funny book to read as the main animal on each 2-page spread makes a sound, they typically should not be making. The correctt animal, whose sound was just emitted, tells the main animal that they do not make that sound. I enjoyed the repeated structure of the book with only the sound and the animals name being changed throughout the book. I like a toddler’s book that isn’t cluttered and this one fits that criteria. The illustrations are bright, simple, and the use of text font sizes was used to get their point across. I really like this series of books as they have a great variety and their books are interesting and engaging- thanks Rookie Toddler. There’s also a bee that’s flying around on each two-page spread that the reader is supposed to find.

Page Example:
On left side of page, a cow – “Quack, quack, QUACK!
I quack all day.
Quack, quack, quack.
Is that what cows say? “
On the right hand corner two ducks – “No! Cows say Moo.”

5 star Children’s board book

I thought this was another cute book by Rookie Toddler.  They will be reading about how their smile compares to a crocodile and I believe that both, boys and girls will enjoy this book.

The half-circle edges along the side, really helps little toddlers turn the thick pages of this board book.  On each 2-page spread, a toddler is showcased on one side and on the other, a crocodile.  There is a lot of diversity in the toddlers featured.  I liked the simplicity of the book, the large font size, the illustrations (all but one), and the information presented.   As the author closes out the book, there is no right or wrong answer, the author allows the reader to figure things out on their own which is a great bonus.

The book features clear, realistic illustrations which is fantastic!  Using a large black font, this book is perfect for little ones learning to read and to read to children interested in animals and themselves.  As you’re comparing a child’s smile to a crocodile, you’re considering some interesting concepts.  Ideas like brushing their teeth, baby teeth, chewing, and how their mouths look when you’re not using them. It’s a fun, entertaining book that toddlers and beginning readers will enjoy.

Example:

“You brush your teeth to keep them clean.” (Picture of a toddler brushing his teeth)

“A crocodile never brushes its teeth!” (Picture of a crocodile’s mouth- I think this was a gross picture- yuck!)

3.5 Toddler Board Book

 

Again, I like these half-stars on the side of the book, for little toddlers to use to help turn the pages of their board books.   The illustrations inside are colorful, realistic-looking and they will capture the attention of young readers.   There is variety inside this book from eggs, to a pistachio, a seashell, an apple, and also an avocado. 

On each 2-page spread, a young child is holding one of the objects in their hands and on the other page, you see the same object, but now you see what’s inside or what could be inside that object.  I thought this book was a bit too simple and I thought that the author should have include different items than the ones that they had included.  I feel that an apple and an egg are too common and should have been left out which would have left room for something more interesting.    Cute book though from Rookie Toddler.

Humpty Dumpty by Annie Kubler

5 stars Children’s board book

My grandson (22 months) loved this book. From reciting and watching this nursery rhyme over and over again, he loved to look at this board book and read it himself. The words match perfectly with the rhythm we all know from long ago, so there’s nothing new and the illustrations match the text.


I liked the faces on the children as they play out the story and used this to talk about feelings and reading expressions on people’s faces. My only question, what happened to Humpty’s hat when he fell?

Where’s his hat?
(the white rectangle item is our library’s scan bar)
The back of the book has the music to go with it.

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

5 stars Children’s Book

This book is beautiful!  This book says it all.  If you were to buy one book to have in your library, this should be the one!  It’s almost brought tears to my eyes as the author explains how we are all unite on this one big planet. 

I really enjoyed the illustrations inside this book, from how much detail was included, to the color choice, to how much there was to look at, these illustrations were wonderfully done.  I was impressed with how the author used an assortment of each topic to get her point across.  When she addressed how individuals traveled:  she included a rowboat, tugboat, skateboard, taxi, tractor, airplane, hot air balloon, camper, police car, ambulance, race car, wheelchair, pickup, bus, etc.  The two pages were full.  The author covers a variety of subjects in this book including families, weather, food, what people do, feelings, etc.   There was this feeling of love and community that came over me as I read this book, that we all are together on this planet, breathing and hopefully working together. 

This is an oversized book (11.25 x9 approx.) with 74 pages.  This is not one book that will be read once and put away as the illustrations again, are interesting and many of them have lots of look at.  I think this one is a keeper.  I highly recommend this one and make sure you read the last page of the book as the author talks about how she arrived at writing this book. 

” There are lots of things we don’t know.  We don’t know where we were before we were born or where we go when we die.  But right this minute, we are here together on this beautiful planet.”

“We humans define ourselves be where we are born, where we live, what we believe, by the clothes we wear, and the languages we speak.  But there is no “typical” person.  We are all different.”

Outside Art by Madeline Kloepper

5 stars Children’s Picture

Art is in the eye of the beholder.  I remember hearing this when I was young and finally, someone explained this simple, complex statement to me. It has stuck with me ever since because it says so much with such few words.  These are the words that came to mind when I read this book. Everyone makes art in their own way. A baby can make art and so can a senior citizen.  It’s in its interpretation, that we label things art. 

As Pine Martin watches the Human inside and outside its log nest in the woods, doing odd things, Pine Marten tries to find the meaning behind them. I enjoyed Pine Marten’s view of the human world: “plucking the string-log to make noise” and “using mud to make a water holder” to refer to the playing of a guitar and to using a clay pottery wheel. It was a refreshing way to look upon the world that we live in.  When he watches the Human “putting colors on a board using a furry stick,” he’s confused. 

Chickadee explains what he has heard the Human is doing and how it refers to Art and he explains what he thinks Art is.  Soon, a variety of animals arrive one-by-one to give their own opinion of what Art is and how it relates to the Human’s activity.  I thought this was clever and I liked how the house cat got in on the action and tried to outsmart them all.  I said tried……. Is the Human the only one who can create Art?

The illustrations are beautiful and creative a peaceful feeling to the book.  There are many interesting ideas that come out of this book and ways that you can engage children using this book.  I think this book is good for children beginning around 6 years of age based on the concept, content, and language.  I really enjoyed it.    

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!!

Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar

5 stars Children’s Picture

Let me tell you a story….and with that, she saw herself and tried to change.  I like it when a story says it all and for this young girl, she heard the story and understood.

She had arrived to this country, alone.  Her family, friends and her cats were still back home and she misses them so much.   Her Auntie and Uncle were thrilled to have her with them and they showered her with love and presents. She wanted to make some friends, but how?

Her Auntie notices the young girl’s quietness and she asks her if she would like to take a walk together.  As they walk, the aunt unleashes a story filled with adventure which draws the girl in.  It begins with a group of Persia refuges who were traveling via boat, who had finally arrived on the shores of India.   The local king was refusing to let the Persia refuges stay.  The refuges were begging the king but unfortunately, they couldn’t understand what each of them were saying to each other.  The king decided to visually show them what he meant. The refuges saw what the king was doing and they too, responded to the king in a visual way.  Now, they both understood each other.

What a clever story and a clever technique!   What a surprise to both parties.  I thought the ending was great!   I loved the illustrations in this book too!  I enjoyed how the edges on each page of the Auntie’s story were artistly created.  These fancy edges, framed each picture and made it a notable journey.  The relationship between the girl and her Auntie was special and I liked how the couple tried to make the girl feel comfortable in their home.  A great story!     

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda Child

3 stars Children’s Picture

Windy Girl likes to hang out in her Uncle’s pickup truck.  She hears the best stories while sitting in his truck.  Her uncle can remember when he was a young child but Windy Girl’s favorite stories are when he talks about the powwow.   I thought this was so sweet that she sits with her uncle in his truck and that they have some bonding time. Without any outside forces, with just the two of them together, they can focus on each other.  As her Uncle talks about the powwow, this story reminds her of her own dog, Itchy Boy. 

Windy Girl and Itchy Boy loved their days at the powwow.   Everyone was happy at the powwow as they sang, danced and spent time with each other.  Typically, the celebration would last until late into the night and the night sky would dance with the Northern Lights.  The children and the dogs would fall asleep to the beating of the drums.   Windy recalls a time when she had a weird yet wonderful dream about a powwow.  Windy explains her dream and I do have to agree that this dream was weird and the illustrations make her dream, even more unusual.  It was after she had this dream that Windy made some observations about powwows.  

I liked how the story was written in two different languages, I thought that was interesting.   I liked looking at the Ojibwa language that was written out below the English language.  It seemed the language had longer words and it was hard to pronounce, at least I thought so.   I was disappointed in the illustrations.   I would have liked the illustrations to have been more realistic and softer to create   a more secure feeling.  I did enjoy reading the Author’s notes at the back of the book yet I wanted more of them.     3 stars