Archive for the ‘Write a Review Wednesday’ Category

Write a Review Wednesday: Where’s Walrus?

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Zero Kisses for Me. This week we looked at Scholastic‘s Where’s Walrus (age 3-7) written and illustrated by Stephen Savage. I have to thank Dina at Big Honcho Media for my review copy.

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Walrus gets tired of life in the zoo; it’s boring. When the zoo keeper isn’t looking he escapes into the outside world. Walrus tries to blend in to the world around him, trying to hide from the zoo keeper hot on his tail. But eventually Walrus’ identity is revealed and in a glorious way that gives the zoo keeper an idea.

Where’s Walrus is a wordless picture book. Although wordless picture books are a great tool for young kids, encouraging them to tell their own story based on the pictures, I’m usually not a big fan of them; they’re just not a style of book I prefer. But Where’s Walrus impressed me differently. Perhaps it was the simple 2D illustrations or the clever story told without words that grabbed my attention but I enjoyed going through Where’s Walrus as much as my 4 and 6-year old did.

Where’s Walrus is sort of like a Where’s Waldo style though Walrus is much easier to find. My kids loved to ‘hunt’ for Walrus, pointing him out on each page, laughing at how silly he was trying to be a dancing girl in a stage show or a mermaid in a fountain. I love a good story that’s probably why most wordless stories don’t appeal to me; they don’t seem to have any real story just related images to encourage your own story. The lack of words in Where’s Walrus didn’t detract from the story but still left room for your imagination and your own rendition of what was happening.

This book trailer doesn’t give away any part of the story but it does give you a feel for the book’s fun:

You can add a copy of Where’s Walrus to your own library by visiting your local bookstore or Scholastic. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. What are you reading with your kids?

Write a Review Wednesday: Zero Kisses for Me

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. This week we’re all about love with Valentine’s Day around the corner so we’re reviewing Tundra Books Zero Kisses for Me (age 4-7 ) written by Virginie Soumagnac and illustrated by Manuela Monari. I have to thank Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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It’s hard being the little one in the family;everyone always wants to give you kisses, especially your mom. She sends you out in the rain. Kisses. She gives you a hug. Kisses. One little boy has had enough; he’s worn out by the end of the day after all those kisses. He tells his mom that from now on he wants no more mushy kisses. Not ever. But at bedtime, when his mom obliges his wishes, something isn’t quite right. Could it be he’s missing his kisses?

As my kids get older I know there will be some resistance to mom kisses; I’m already seeing this from my 8-year old daughter. I think as kids get older they feel, just like the boy in Zero Kisses for Me, that big kids don’t need to get kisses all the time; kisses are for babies. I think that’s why I loved this book so much. My kids are always trying to be ‘bigger’ and going to bed without a goodnight kiss is one of those things big kids do, so many kids think. Both the words and illustrations do a great job depicting how a young child is caught between wanting to be grown-up and not be coddled and kissed all the time while at the same time wanting to remain little and protected by their parents. All 3 of my kids could relate to both sides of the boys reaction.

When the boy has difficulty sleeping, after not getting his usual bedtime kiss, he is comforted again by lots of kisses from his mom. Reading Zero Kisses for Me segued nicely into talking about growing up and kisses and respecting personal space (such as maybe not giving too many kisses goodbye in the school yard but lots for good nights and good mornings).

If you want to add a copy of Zero Kisses for Me to your personal library, visit your local bookstore or Tundra Books. For other great book ideas for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. I also included Zero Kisses for Me in a list of book for kids based on the topic of love. Checkout EverythingMom‘s Everything Love section to see what other books are on the list. What are you reading with your kids?

Write a Review Wednesday: Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth. With today being Groundhog Day, it seems fitting to review Sterling Publishing‘s Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox (age 3+), written by Susan Blackaby and illustrated by Carmen Segovia. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Publishing for my review copy.

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It’s Groundhog Day and Brownie steps out her door to be greeted by her dreaded shadow. As she laments another 6-weeks of waiting, with none of her friends around, Brownie is knocked over by February Fox, who is trying to eat her for breakfast. While Brownie holds off February Fox from snacking on her, the two look for signs of Spring, enjoy a snack together and make arrangements to spend time together the next day. Maybe the next 6-weeks of Winter won’t be so bad after all.

We are all familiar with the Groundhog Day shadow ritual. Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox is a great book about celebrating the day with kids. I’m personally a big fan of seasonal book but Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox also has a nice discussion angle. The two animal friends looking for signs of Spring is also a great opportunity to discuss the differences in the seasons and what to look for in the Spring. Kids will enjoy making their own Spring discoveries outside and adding to the discussion about other Spring signs.

I love the use of colour in the illustrations too, grey and white mainly, mimicking the cold of winter, with splashes of red (the fox, Brownie’s scarf, flowers poking out of the ground). Even if Groundhog’s Day has pasted, Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox is a great book to read throughout the month of February.

You can add a copy of Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Sterling Publishing. For other great books for kids, read through the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed The Baby Boss. This week we pull out a new book from one of our favourite author/illustrators. Groundwood Book‘s Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth (age 2-5). written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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Roslyn the rabbit woke up one morning full of excitement. She had a plan, a plan to dig the biggest hole in the Earth. With her father’s encouragement, Roslyn set off into her backyard to find the perfect spot. It seems finding where to dig was harder than digging the hole itself. Roslyn was hoping to dig her way to the South Pole so she could meet a real penguin. Instead she met a grumpy worm, a grouchy mole and a bone-hoarding dog.

In Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth, Roslyn’s enthusiasm and unstoppable spirit are qualities most of us adults wish we had retained from our youth, or at least I do. The thought of physically being able to dig all the way to China or the South Pole is far-fetched but kids don’t think that way; they think without boundaries. Roslyn’s dad doesn’t crush her dream either. Even at the end when Roslyn starts to feel discouraged about never being able to dig her big hole, her dad’s enthusiasm with the work she had accomplish makes her rethink what’s she’s done. A disappointing scenario is now turned into something pretty cool.

My kids loved the different animal encounters Roslyn had in her backyard. They loved her quest to not only dig the biggest hole (and whose child hasn’t wanted to do that) but also her adventure in finding the perfect spot to dig. My 6-year old was struck by the conversation between Roslyn and her dad. He commented that sometimes when a his younger sister makes something out of Lego, like a boat, and it didn’t turn out the way she wanted, he tells her that her boat has some really cool features making it better than other boats. Suddenly her disappointment is an accomplishment and she’s content. Encouraging others and looking at things differently are great qualities. Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth does a great job illustrating a child’s free spirit and imagination as well as disappointment. But it also does a great job showing the relationship with parents or others (such as a friend) and how a few simple words can help you change your perspective. I’m not sure if that’s what Marie-Louise Gay was trying to get across but that’s what we walked away with and that’s not too shabby for a story.

I also love the illustrations in Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth; they’re very organic feeling (and I’m not just saying that because most of the pages take place in the dirt in the backyard). The illustrations fill and weave around the pages with the text slotted into pockets here and there.

If you’re a fan of Marie-Louise Gay (you know, the Stella books) then be sure to visit her website www.marielouisegay.com for more on her books the new Stella and Sam TV show, downloads for kids and more. You can also visit Groundwood Books to get a peek at some of the inside pages of Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth.

You can add a copy of Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or at Groundwood Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Boss Baby

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Christmas Delicious. With a friend of mine experiencing the joys of a new baby in her house, the timing was perfect for Simon and Schuster‘s The Baby Boss (age 4-6), by Marla Frazee. I have to thank Michelle at Simon and Schuster Canada for my review copy.

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He’s demanding. He has fits. He says a lot but none of it makes sense. Oh yeah, and he’s a baby, literally.

The Boss Baby is an interesting take on how a new baby takes center stage in a family’s life, sort of like a boss. Marla Frazee does a great job illustrating the baby as a boss. Even when the baby ‘arrives’, he shows up in a taxi with a large briefcase full of demands. The baby has meetings, lots and lots of meetings, ensuring the parents are at his beck and call. There’s one moment, when the parents are so unresponsive due to lack of sleep, that the boss baby resorts to baby-like tactics to get attention. Surprisingly this works but the boss inside the baby doesn’t stay away for long.

I found The Boss Baby as enjoyable as my kids did, but on different levels. As a parent I could completely relate to the story of the demanding baby, taking center stage, being in control of what happens at home, just like a boss in the office. The kids, especially my 4-year old, just thought it was crazy baby behaviour. Everything the baby did she thought was hysterical (his private jet being a swing in the shape of an airplane). She even laughed when she told me she was just like that when she was a baby (not far from the truth).

The Boss Baby would be a great book for a new parent. It’s a little tongue in cheek about that adjustment stage of baby’s early arrival. Mom and dad can get great enjoyment at the comparison and kids will love the silly baby. The Boss Baby is a great way for parents to address the demands of a new baby with young siblings too.

You can add a copy of The Boss Baby to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or visit Simon and Shuster Canada. For other great books for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Christmas Delicious

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. This week, with Christmas just days away, we’re reading Blue Apple Books Christmas Delicious, written by Lyn Loates and illustrated by Mark Jones. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Raisin and Rice are two mice who were once hungry and poor. But now living in the storeroom of the Zanzibar’s Deli they never want for food, enjoying lamb and ham and cheese and more. With Christmas approaching they decide to celebrate with a feast and set out gathering and brewing and baking. Christmas day arrives and Raisin and Rice dress in their finest ready to enjoy what they had prepared but something is missing. It’s not the goodies or decorations, it was their friends. They went out and invited all their old friends to join them and had the merriest Christmas ever.

Christmas and food go so well together; that’s what appealed to me first about this book, Christmas Delicious. Although I’m not a fan of mice living and eating in a deli my kids didn’t seem to mind. But then they think of mice as humanized characters and Raisin and Rice do share their wealth with their less fortunate friends. Written in rhyme, Christmas Delicious is a very lyrical read, almost coming out as a song. Mice aside, I do love the message of sharing with friends, that no matter how much you have you don’t get the same joy out of it unless you can share that joy with someone else. It’s a wonderful message for Christmas and all year-long.

The illustrations fill the pages with warm Christmas colours. My 3 kids loved the story of the animals enjoying Christmas together, especially Christmas that involves food.

You can add a copy of Christmas Delicious to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Christmas Books

I love the holidays, especially Christmas. Last week I talked about our Top 10 Christmas Albums we love to listen too. This week I’m thinking about books. We have a pretty big library of children’s books at home. There are so many great books out there but I have a real soft spot for seasonal books. We have 2 shelves on our children’s bookcase devoted to these types of books. This last month we’ve been enjoying a few classics and some new favourites. I thought with Christmas approaching I would share as part of Oh Amanada‘s Top Ten Tuesday blog, 10 of our Favourite Christmas stories, some which we’ve reviewed and others that are just part of our personal collection.

  1. Ten on the SledThis is a fun counting book, counting from 10 back to one, based on the rhyme Ten in the Bed. You can’t help but sing this story instead of reading it.
  2. The Great Reindeer Rebellion –  A fun tale about striking reindeer set to the rhyme of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  3. The Nativity Story – This large sturdy board book is great for even little hands, with simply, rhyming text and shiny, uncluttered images.
  4. Peter Claus and the Naughty List – This is a great story illustrating that behaviour isn’t black and white and that doing something that might be deemed bad doesn’t make you an awful person (or child in this case).
  5. Olive the Other Reindeer – I love the work of J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh and this tale about a dog named Olive who offers to help Santa pull his sleigh is a delight to read and look at.
  6. Dream Snow – Eric Carle is another staple in a child’s book library and Dream Snow is a fantastic Christmas treat. The story is sweet, the illustrations in Carle’s trademark mosaic style and the surprise at the end is delightful
  7. Little Tree – Based on e. e. cummings’ poem, this is a beautiful story about love and belonging with wonderful whimsical illustrations.
  8. Santa Claus and the Reindeer Chase – This is a great interactive book as kids move a small cut-out Santa through various slots and openings on each page, trying to catch-up with his reindeer in time for Christmas Eve.
  9. The Present – Technically it’s about a birthday present but the concept of anticipation and charity hold true for Christmas also. Plus I just love this story.
  10. Christmas with Rita and Whatsit – Follow the adventures of Rita and her dog Whatsit as they prepare for Christmas as only a child (and child-like dog) would. I love the simple line drawing illustrations with just a splash of orange and green throughout. https://cabadov.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/warw-christmas-with-rita-and-whatsit/

Of course this is just ten of our favourites. There are so many other great Christmas books for kids out there. What are some of your favourites?

Write a Review Wednesday: A Porcupine in a Pine Tree

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Ten on the Sled. This week we’re looking at another Christmas counting book of sorts, Scholastic‘s A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (age 3-7) written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Wener Zimmermann. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

You’re probably familiar with the song, even reading the first few words has me singing, but how about reading or singing it with a Canadian twist. That’s what you’ll find when you read A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. You’ll find the likes of beavers, puffins, Mounties and even the Stanley Cup worked into this festive counting story.

As the porcupine sits atop of the Charlie Brown Christmas like pine tree, the pages get fuller and busier as the song continues. Helaine does a great job working the Canadian symbols into the story without making it a mouthful to read; the flow is beautiful. My 8-year old chimed right in, singing the whole story to everyone. The second time we read A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, my daughter had assigned everyone parts to read; it was a great way to read the story. At the end the porcupine steps down from his perch in the pine tree to unveil a surprise for everyone.

As the story repeats elements on each page, kids will be able to read along easily. It’s a fun, festive way to reinforce the numbers 1 to twelve also, by counting up in the song. Kids can also try counting the actual elements in the story though near the end the page gets a little crowded and some things may be hard to find but that didn’t stop my 3, especially my 4-year old. Everyone enjoyed reading A Porcupine in a Pine Tree and put us all in a Christmasy frame of mind right before bed.

You can add a copy of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore. For other great book ideas for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Ten on the Sled

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Snappy Builder Nativity. This week, keeping in the Christmas or at least the winter mood, we review Sterling Publishing’s Ten on the Sled (age 3+) by Kim Norman and illustrated by Liza Woodruff. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Publishing for my review copy.

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One wintry night reindeer decides to go for a toboggan ride and soon nine other friends join in, all riding on the sled together. But as they twist and turn down the hill, one-by-one the friends fall off the sled until moose is racing a snowball of friends down the hill.

Ten on the Sled is best read, or in our case sung, to the tune of ten in the bed and the little one said, rollover, rollover. You’ll probably find, as I did when reading it to my kids, that you’ll catch yourself singing the book without realizing it. The story was fun and rhythmic to read for both myself and the kids. All 3 of my kids, including my 8-year old loved the story. My 4 and 6-year old loved the pictures of the friends falling off the sled. Each page they looked for the growing snowball of friends that rolled down the hill in the background. I must admit I didn’t notice this at first; my kids pointed it out to me. My 8-year old enjoying singing the rhyme along with me. I actually enjoyed the writing of Ten on the Sled more than the original rhyme because of the varied words; it didn’t just repeat the same words in each stanza.

As the sled got lighter with less friends, it also got faster and you could feel that looking at the illustrations. We read the story faster and faster too which made my kids laugh even more. Ten on the Sled was a quick story but we all enjoyed it so much we read, or rather, sang it two more times that night. This is a nice winter story but also a great counting book. The story goes from ten down to one and was a great exercise in remembering the numbers in reverse order.

You can add a copy of Ten on the Sled to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Sterling Publishing. For other great book ideas for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Snappy Build Nativity

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Counting on Snow. With the start of December and the Advent season we’re reading Silver Dolphin BooksSnappy Builder Nativity (age 3+) by Derek Mattews. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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In our house we celebrate Santa and Jesus during the Christmas season so a mix of both religious and non-religious stories are read this time of year. As you can probably guess from the title Snappy Builder Nativity, this hardcover book from Silver Dolphin Books is about the Christmas Story. Like most of the books in the Snappy series, the pages in the Snappy Builder Nativity are made from a reinforced cardboard making them durable for young readers to turn. The images fill the pages with strong colours and the story, though short, covers the main elements of the Christmas story in a fun rhyme. If you’re child is already familiar with the Christmas Story, they will enjoy participating in the story, telling what happens next. Snappy Build Nativity is also a great book to share with young kids who are just learning about the Christmas Story; the rhyme and illustrations help children to anticipate what comes next in the story.

Along with the actual story, the Snappy Builder Nativity also includes a 39 piece nativity scene you can build. The pieces are built from reinforced cardboard and use the same illustrations as found in the story. After reading the book or even while reading the story, kids can reenact the story with the nativity characters. My 8-year old built the nativity scene herself (it sits in her room) but younger kids will need some help putting it together. I love that all the main characters are all separate elements (the 3 kids are individual pieces versus being grouped together as one pieces), plus there are a number of barn animal pieces too. And each piece is printed double-sided so the characters can turn around. My daughter loved having the kings walk around and they could face either way. I also like how these detachable nativity pieces are included at the back of the book; it’s not even obvious they were attached and you can still enjoy the story. You will have to find a way to story these pieces when the Christmas season is over.

The Christmas Story is a central part of the celebrating Christmas and the Snappy Builder makes is accessible and fun for kids to enjoy and experience themselves. Other titles in the Snappy Builder series include: Snappy Builder Noah’s Ark, and Snappy Builder On the Farm,

To add a copy of Snappy Builder Nativity to your personal collection or to give as a gift, visit your local bookstore or visit Raincoast Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday post.