Archive for book reviews–toddlers

book review

Grump Groan Growl by Bell Hooks and Chris Raschka

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Oh my, the child in this book is surely in a BAD MOOD.  In this obvious homage to the classic “Where the Wild Things Are”, a child must deal with a “bad mood on the prowl”, an emotion portrayed as a non-frightening, Sendak-like monster.  By both admitting (“grump/groan/growl/all I am is WILD”) and accepting (“can’t flee/can’t go away”) the anger, the child eventually calms that beastly feeling, and can “just let it slide”.   Many young readers may benefit from watching the child in this book consciously work to control those angry emotions that everyone feels from time to time.  Bold, eloquent illustrations tell as much of this story as the words do, with thick black lines and bold splashes of watercolors mirroring the strong emotions of the child.  Observant young readers will notice that the curly hair of the monster echoes that of the child, and the blue slashing line used for the monster’s mouth is also used for the mouth of the child when yelling the grump/groan/growl refrain.  Hopefully this will lead readers to the conclusion that the monster is not real, but instead represents the child’s angry feelings.   Most powerfully of all, the illustrations express the conquering of the child’s anger at the end of the story by showing the monster boxed up and napping beneath the seated and relaxed child.  Even readers in a good mood will have fun chanting “Grump/Groan/Growl”, and this alliteration can help develop your child’s phonological awareness, which is important in the development of early literacy skills.  So be sure to check out this strikingly dynamic book.

Lane Library info here

 

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book review

Uh-Oh by Rachel Isadora

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As any parents of a toddler know, “uh-oh” is a common phrase associated with little ones.  The toddler in this book is certainly no exception.  His day is filled with “uh-oh’s”, from spilling his cereal on his head in the morning, to dropping his ice cream in the afternoon, to throwing his bath toys on the floor at night.   This sounds like a frustrating day indeed, but instead the child’s face reflects the sheer joy of a busy and normal childhood.  Young readers will enjoy and even be comforted by the book child’s routine.  The simplicity of the text, with a noun (toy box, ice cream, kitty cat) on the right of the pages and the ubiquitous ‘uh-oh’ on the left, lends itself to a number of successful ways to read this book.  Adult readers can read the noun on one page and let their young one guess what happens on the next (with a rousing chorus of ‘uh-oh’ after each page, of course), discussions of appropriate behavior are a natural extension of the story, and after repeated experiences with the book, young readers will begin to recognize events and even vocabulary and will be to follow along in the text with you.  Most importantly, of course, young readers will just have fun. The bright pastel illustrations add to the cheer, and Isadora’s toddler is expressive and simply adorable.  Be sure to check this one out!

Lane Library info here

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book review

Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka

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This first book in the Trucktown series was created with young male readers in mind, and any reader that likes to smash and crash will definitely be hooked.  From their messy encounter with Cement Mixer Melvin to their surprising meeting with Wrecking Crane Rosie, Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan proclam their love of demolition with a refrain that kids will love to hear (and say with you) –“Smash! Crash!”  Young readers will love the friendly anthropomorphized vehicles and the bright, extremely energetic illustrations.   Truck lovers young and old will want to check out this “smashing” book!

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book review

Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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Readers get three easy-to-read and deceptively simple stories in this one delightful book.   Best friends Dog and Bear have fun, conquer fears, and learn about compromises, all in amazingly few words, and with expressions that read as easily as the text.  Young readers will relate to the simplicity and familiarity of each story, while adults will find the pair’s gentle adventures humorous and sweet.  In one story, Dog decides to change his “boring” name, and comes up with all kinds of inappropriate possibilities.  Bear, doubtful about the name change, instead suggests the name “my best friend Dog”, which earns Dog’s enthusiastic approval.  But then Dog decides to shorten that name, to what else? “Dog”. 

The illustrations are simple, bold colors contained by thick black lines, surrounded by generous amounts of white space, all which combine to give the story an immediacy and energy.  Readers will love the animals’ extremely expressive faces.

Be sure to check this book out for your youngest readers.  (Lane Library info here)

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book review

And the Train Goes… by William Bee

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“All aboard who are coming aboard…” says the train conductor at the station, and so begins a train ride for a wide variety of characters, from the fireman shoveling coal to the school class off on a trip chickens off to market.  An absolute delight to read aloud, this book is full of great sound effects that kids will love to hear and to say: the engine goes “chuff-chuff, chufferty-chuff, the train goes “clickerty-click, clickerty-clack”, the chickens on their way to market go “cluck-cluck, cluckerty-cluck”.  The heavily detailed illustrations are pen and ink, with a computer used to fill in the drawings with flat, bright colors.  Each double spread depicts a different car (they actually look more like platforms than cars) of the train and its various passengers, and is full of small details like the floral designs on the sides of each train car, and repeated in various places from the blanket on the horse to the tea cups on the table of the ladies train car.  A fantastically fun book to read aloud to train lovers and anyone who just likes to go.

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book review

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

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Uh-oh, Bird sure did wake up in a bad mood (something all readers can relate to!).  He’s just too grumpy to do anything, even fly.  “Looks like I’m walking today” he grumbles, and off he stomps.   As he walks thorugh the woods, Bird meets up with several of his animal friends, all of whom ask what he’s doing.  Bird’s replies are hilariously sarcastic, at least at first.  As he is joined by more and more of his friends, Bird’s walk becomes a follow-the-leader game, as his friends begin to imitate his every move.  In fact, thanks to his friends and their antics, Bird forgets that he’s grumpy and starts to have fun.  By the end of the story, Bird is having such a good time that he invites his friends back to his nest for worms.  The illustrations add so much to this simple story, and the grumpy expression on Bird’s face at the beginning of the story is priceless.  The bright, almost garish colors and familiar backgrounds, along with the cartoon-like animal figures, will catch a young reader’s eye and draw them into the story.  This book, along with a walk, of course, is the perfect antidote for a bad mood.  (Lane Library info)

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book review

When a Monster is Born by Sean Taylor, illustrations by Nick Sharrat

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Who knew that monsters have so many choices to make in the course of their lives?  What, you haven’t heard about the life of a faraway-in-the-forest or an under-the-bed monster?  This monsters-choose-their-own adventure book describes the life of a monster, from dancing the boogie-woogie (“that’s that”, so not a good choice) to eating the principal (you’ll have to read the book and see).   The monster is more silly than frightening, and he even remembers to say sorry when he walks through a wall, so even the youngest of readers will enjoy his adventures.  Bright colors and multiple fonts give this book a modern and immediate feel, and are made even more striking by being set on a black background.   The pure silliness of this story and its monster hero will have kids requesting this book over and over.  (Lane Library info)

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