Posts Tagged ‘Children’s book review’

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.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

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 Lulu and the Brontosaurus. This week we’re reading CharlesbridgeThe Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (age 6-9), by C.M. Millen and illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski. I have to thank Donna at Charlesbridge for my review copy.

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Brother Theophane lives in a tall stone building in the mountains of Mourne with other holy men. They sit at their simple brown desks, quietly transcribing wise words on simple brown parchment using simple brown ink. But Brother Theophane isn’t like all the other monks. His distraction with the beauty of the world outside has him pulled from scribing duty to ink making. While gathering more bark for the monk’s brown ink, Brother Theophane discovers wild blackberries and the purple hue they leave on his fingers. Excited by this colourful discovery, Brother Theophane sets about the grounds looking for other plants: bright violet hues of billberries, orange from weld blooms, a strong shade of yellow from crocus. Soon the other monks aren’t sitting at their simple brown desks, quietly transcribing wise words on simple brown parchment using simple brown ink. Now their parchment is covered with heavenly hues, filling their bright books with colourful phrases.

I’ve always been fascinated by the old books and their ornate and colourful illustrations produced by these monks from the middle ages. This is a wonderful story about how colours were added to these books. According to the author’s note at the back of the book, the poem The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane is based on originally scribbles by medieval monks. Aside from the historical aspect of the story, the child-like character of Brother Theophane and his natural curiosity reminds me very much of kids in general. It’s a great illustration to kids that just because something has been done one way for many years, doesn’t mean it can never change. My two girls loved Brother Theophane’s character. My 3-year old loved his ability to talk to the birds and roll around in the grass. My 8-year old loved the story of the colours. I think her mind was conjuring up ways to try to get colour out of elements in our backyard.

The illustrations are more like etchings and add to the story, mimicking, in a way, the types of illustrations the Brothers were working on. The text was surrounded on each page by a detailed border. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane is both a delight to read and look at.  The book isn’t a Christmas story, however,  the illustrations gave it a muted stained glass feel, which to me always have a Christmas feel. I wouldn’t classify The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane as a religious story either. Yes it talks about monks and the work they did, but if you appreciate books now, the story about the introduction of colour is one everyone can enjoy.

You can add a copy of The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or by visiting Charlesbridge. For other great book ideas for kids, checkout the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Lulu and the Brontosaurus

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 Flock of Shoes. This week we’re looking at Simon and Schuster Canada‘s Lulu and the Brontosaurus (age 6 to 8), written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lane Smith. I have to thank Joanna at Simon and Schuster Canada for my review copy.

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There was a little girl named Lulu and her parents give her everything she wants. When they asked their daughter what she wanted for her birthday they were surprised by her request: I want a Brontosaurus for my birthday present. I want a Brontosaurus for a pet.

When Lulu’s parents refused to get her the Brontosaurus on her birthday, she packed a bag and left home in search of one. Along the way she sang this song:

I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get
a bronto-bronto-bronto
Brontosaurus for a pet.

I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get
a bronto-bronto-bronto
Brontosaurus for a pet.

On her journey through the dark woods Lulu encountered many ferocious beasts but she didn’t let that deter her. She just squeezed and bonked and jumped on the toes of the animals that stood in her way. The next day Lulu did find her Brontosaurus, or rather the Brontosaurus found her. The Brontosaurus was also looking for a pet and thought Lulu was ideal. Lulu started to regret her decision to look for a Brontosaurus and her mean behaviour toward her parents and the other animals. Lulu decided being a pet wasn’t a good thing and tricked the Brontosaurus so she could get away. As she tried to escape the woods she encountered the ferocious beasts she hurt earlier but this time instead of squeezing and bonking and jumping on their toes, she offered them a gift. The animals were happy, Lulu felt better and she made it home in one piece only to find someone waiting for her.

All three of my kids loved the story of Lulu and the Brontosaurus, as did I. As a parent I encounter the gimme’s often around birthdays and other holidays like Christmas. Lulu’s story is one we could all relate too, though we don’t give in to gifts like Lulu’s parents do. I liked how Lulu learned on her own that her selfish and mean behaviour wasn’t the best way to get what she wanted. The twist of having the Brontosaurus looking for a pet too was a great surprise (don’t tell your kids if you get this book). My 3-year old couldn’t help but sing Lulu’s song as we read the story. Even now the song comes out during free play; it’s very infectious and fun.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus is a light-hearted, fun read for those reading beginning chapter books. The book itself is an unusual shape and the story is a nice balance of copy and illustrations. The use of different font and font size help to create emphasis on Lulu’s song, which is sung throughout the story. The book also offers 3 alternate endings. You could read the story and choose an ending or read them all. My kids loved voting on which ending they preferred.

Visit Simon and Schuster Canada‘s site to read an except from chapter 1 or to see visually how the book looks inside.

You can add Lulu and the Brontosaurus to your personal library by visiting your local book store or visiting Simon and Schuster Canada. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: A Flock of Shoes

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 Mummy Mazes, A Monumental Book. With the colder weather setting in, this week’s book by Annick Press, A Flock of Shoes (age 4-7) written by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Qin Leng seems fitting. I have to thank Joanna at Annick Press for my review copy.

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Abby Loved her sandals. All summer she walked and skipped and jumped in them. Abby and her sandals were inseparable. One Fall day while swinging, Abby’s sandals flew off her feet and just kept flying, heading south along with other sandals. Her mother bought her brand new boots but they weren’t the same as Abby’s sandals, which she missed very much. Eventually Abby started to really like her boots. All Winter she stomped and kicked and ran in her boots until one Spring day her boots hopped aboard a train heading North. But as her boots left for colder weather, Abby’s favourite sandals returned.

I don’t think I’m alone as a parent when it comes to convincing my kids to switch from Summer clothes into Fall clothes. Summer sandals have been a particularly touchy point with my 3-year old. My daughter enjoyed wearing her sandals so much; they are easy for her to put on and so many great memories are attributed to them. A Flock of Shoes was perfect to read. Sarah Tsiang does a wonderful job depicting just how connected a child can be with a piece of clothing and Quin Leng‘s watercolour illustrations compliment the warmth of the story. The story of summer shoes needing to go away somewhere warm is a delightful way to look at seasonal items. My 3-year old daughter loved the story and loved Abby and her shoes. Whether my daughter will give up wearing her sandals is another story

You can add a copy of A Flock of Shoes to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore. For other great books suggestions for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.