Wednesday, May 16, 2018


A group of school-aged children have a couple of things in common; they enjoy spending time with one another, and they love to build forts. Why? Because Fort-Building Time is a great way for put their imaginations to work during any time of the year. From building igloos or setting up a tent to building a life-size castle and tree house, creating and building with different materials can be so much fun. What kind of fort would you build with your friends?

Megan Wagner Lloyd and Abigail Halpin are an extraordinary team. They’ve created a picture book that shows how cooperation results in something bigger than what they’ve expected. The imagination can lead to many adventures throughout the year. The beautifully drawn pictures of each diverse character adds a great amount of warmth, and invites readers to build a fort alongside of them. A sheer delight!

For 2-7.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018


A little girl tells her daddy how mommy is needed by her more than he needs her because he already has his own mommy who can help him sleep.  She goes through a list of things that she thinks may help him have a good night's rest like a cot or a big boy bassinet because she and mommy need the big bed to themselves.  

The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight  is a very funny take on how sleeping arrangements can be overtaken by a little one.  Parents who have had to curl up in a corner of the bed or have been kicked by a child mid-slumber will get a good chuckle while reading this book. 

For preschoolers and up.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


Walt is small, but does he have what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles, like a snowstorm? When the snowplow drivers and their snow plows are called to action to help care for the roadways and bridges, Walt is disregarded. Fortunately, one snowplow driver is more than happy to drive Walt, looking past his size. He’s simply determined to get the job done, and he believes that Walt is more than capable. With feelings of uncertainty, Walt really isn’t sure that he can do the job. Will Small Walt disappoint or will he show that size truly doesn’t matter?

Elizabeth Verdick’s story of how small things do matter and can make a difference is a wonderful addition to the genre. Marc Rosenthal’s illustrations adds the perfect classic touch, which is reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton’s beautiful illustrations in Katy and the Big Snow. Both are great to share, especially during the winter season. 

For 3-7

Thursday, April 26, 2018


I honestly can’t believe none of our Children’s staff have reviewed this book yet. Its hilarity is the stuff of legends, and we’ve already shared it with as many storytime families and visiting classes as we possibly could. If you get enough kindergartners in a room while you continually utter the word “underwear” in complete deadpan, the walls might actually tremble from the force of their uproarious laughter.

The premise is simple: Polar Bear, having most embarrassingly misplaced his underwear (oops), searches through the book for the aforementioned garment with the help of his friend Mouse. Spreads featuring Polar Bear and Mouse carefully examining a single pair of brightly patterned underwear and commenting on why it may or may not belong to Polar Bear alternate with spreads of each pair’s true owner donning the piece.

Pretty soon the older kids start catching on, and then come the enthusiastic guesses. Who’s itty-bitty and might like flowers on their underwear? BUTTERFLY! Who loves mice? CAT! Who enjoys carrots? BUNNY! Yes, but why is the underwear upside down? Silence here, but the answer always cracks them up.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera, a pseudonym for creative duo Tatsuya Kameyama and Atsuko Nakagawa, is nothing less than a picture book masterpiece in my mind. It just so perfectly captures the (weird) interests and humor of its young target audience. As a caveat I will confess that in my own reading of the book I tend to skip the last page. I’m not sure whether being a Japanese import has any effect on this, but the little ditty at the end has never quite worked for me. Still, a stellar book and not to be missed!

Ages 4+

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Hi grownups.  Are you tired of feeding your baby or toddler the same foods over and over?  Why not explore our new baby and toddler food books in our Parenting Collection?  These simple to use books offer hundreds of baby purees and toddler meals.

Why not try avocado soup or coconut rice with your little one?  Is your baby teething?  Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food by Leena Saini has a Peach Teething “Ice Cream” that you might like to try.

As your little one gets older try some of the toddler recipes in 201 Organic Baby and Toddler Meals: The Healthiest Toddler and Baby Food Recipes You Can Make by Tamika L. Gardner.  Your toddler might enjoy the Cinnamon Watermelon Bowl or the Veggie and Hummus Platter.

You can explore these books and many more in our Parenting Collection.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


When she trips over her toys bumping into and spilling a pitcher of what looks like juice all over the couch, Lola is afraid of what might happen to her so she decides to hide at the library until she's grown. As she makes her way to the library, she encounters others who have also been in accidents and fear the consequences so one by one they all follow Lola to the library to hide.  

Upon entering the library, they encounter chaos inside but all will come to order when  bird helps Lola and the other runaways by explaining that they were accidents. Face them, clean them up and fix the problems.  

This book illustrates the lesson in a hilarious way without beating a child over the head with the message. With clear images and exaggerated expressions Andrea Tsurumi provides humor and understanding in Accident!

For preschoolers and up. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


An amazing book about how diverse we  are. I love the great photographs of all the children in the story.  What's the Difference? by Doyin Richards is for preschoolers and up. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018


Lola has a school assignment to draw a picture of the country she's originally from--but unlike most of the other kids in her class full of immigrants, she was too young to remember anything before her family left to come to America. She is frustrated that she can't remember her birthplace, so she has to rely on the memories of all the people in her neighborhood who also came from the unspecified island. Her cousin tells her about the bats as big as blankets, Mrs. Bernard, who sells her empanadas, tells her there's so much music people are dancing in their sleep, and Jhonathan the barber tells her about mangoes so sweet they make you want to cry. All her friends and family and neighbors are eager to regale her with the vibrant sights and sounds and smells of their native island. All except for Mr. Mir, who is initially hesitant to share his not-so-fond memories. But when he does, Lola learns of the dreadful monster that terrified the island until the brave people banded together to rise up against it. She takes all the combined memories--both sweet and sorrowful--and turns them into a breathtaking drawing that brings the island to life for her and her classmates. 

Pulitzer-prize winning author Junot Diaz infuses Islandborn, his first book for children, with beautifully evocative language that breathes life into each character, not least of which is the island itself. Leo Espinosa's illustrations provide the perfect compliment to the text, both stunning and heartfelt. 

This transporting and life-affirming picture book is filled to the brim with lyrical language, bright and dynamic illustrations, a touch of allegory, and more than a little spot-on humor, and is ideal for more sophisticated picture book readers in kindergarten through sixth grade. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


While taking a walk with his dog, a boy can see windows on many dwellings in his urban neighborhood. What is a window? A glance reveals that it’s just an opening in a wall, but a closer look reveals so much more. Looking into one window one can see people dancing, having a nice dinner, or loved ones hugging each other. There’s an endearing happiness in each and every window and home that creates joy that transcends the neighborhood. It’s no wonder the boy appears at ease while going for an evening walk.

Windows by Julia Denos is indeed unique, and illustrator E. B. Goodale’s attention to detail adds depth to this simple picture book story. The illustrations skillfully capture the many different houses in the boy’s diverse neighborhood. He feels quite connected, despite the differences between each home around him. This neighborhood is one to walk through again and again. For ages 3-7.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


“Mr. and Mrs. Snivels were minding their own business, when they happened to have a baby.” So begins the diabolical tale of a dastardly mischief-maker’s rise to villainy. Young Dylan is a natural escape artist resistant to bedtimes, prone to launching food everywhere, and severely allergic to purple parsnip preserves.

In other words: an adorable tiny terror much like every other baby.

While initially surprised to learn of their baby’s bonafide supervillainy, Mr. and Mrs. Snivels, like any other supportive parents, are quick to adapt to his devious disposition. They croon over Dylan’s fiendish achievements and proudly declare him to be the very best and cleverest supervillain ever. Dylan is sure his parents are right. That is, until he starts school at Astrid Rancid’s Academy for the Villainous & Vile and is dismayed to discover a classmate even more nefarious than he.

When a class contest to create the most diabolical robot is announced, Dylan knows it’s his one chance to prove his absolutely abominably wicked ways. Who will triumph in the quest for ultimate supervillainy? Read to find out, of course.

Charming and whimsical, Dylan the Villain written and illustrated by K. G. Campbell, is the 2017 Southern California Children’s Literature Council award winner in the picture book category. Campbell also illustrated Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Award winning Flora and Ulysses and Ame Dyckman's Tea Party Rules (also a favorite for this reviewer).

For more picture books stories about tiny tots with devious designs, try Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee, and King Baby by Kate Beaton (reviewed by Meghan).

Ages 4+

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli is a wacky nonsensical (You're sweet like a banker) yet sometimes sensical (I'm lucky like a window) picture book where a child and a pig are enjoying two stolen slices of pie cooling on a window sill.  Comparing loves and likes with fun and expressive illustrations of Pizzoli are great companions to the words by Barnett.  Another winner from this team.  

Toad on the Road by Stephen Shaskan is a cautionary tale, where mom is invoked because little toad is constantly playing in the road.  Each animal on a different vehicle or mode of transportation crashes to avoid toad until the end when... 
I won't give away who comes along to rescue little toad, whose only crime is trying to catch a fly, in the middle of the road.  

In Bumpety, Dunkety, Thympety-Thump by K. L. Going and Simone Shin two children are going down a road in a wagon going bumpety bump and stopping along the way to dunkety dunk in a pond or eating berries and putting them in a buckety buck with a plunkety plunk.  The noises and sounds continue all through the day until everyone in the family falls asleep with hearts beating a thumpety thump.  A lovely illustrated book for a great family read aloud 

For toddlers - Kindergarteners. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018


All Harbet wants is to enjoy his Nana’s cozy, hand-knitted hat in peace. But everywhere he goes there’s a constant exasperating bleating from trend-followers about his “old hat.” So Harbet decides to get a new hat. That will stop the teasing, right?

Except the thing to know about following fashion is that trends are fleeting. Once favored flamboyant fruit cocktail hats are swiftly bulldozed by flashy flashing safety cone hats, which are then overtaken by a vogue fleet of naval ship hats, and so on and so forth. And despite all his most determined efforts, Harbet can’t seem to get ahead of the trends or escape the taunts of “old hat.”

Finally, Harbet decides on something absolutely revolutionary, and with that learns an important lesson about being true to oneself that will never go out of style.

Prolific author-illustrator Emily Gravett is an old hand (though not by any means an Old Hat) when it comes to creating gentle-humored fan favorite picture books. For more modish hat reads see this earlier review of Brian Won’s Hooray for Hat! (What can I say? I like hats.)

Ages 4+

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I think Gus Gordon just wanted to draw birds, lots of birds.  The end pages have illustrations of old suitcase advertisements so you get the sense that this is an unusual take on birds going south for the winter.  

It's winter and fowls of all sorts are going every which way, on all manners of transportation.  Some are even using travel agents to help them get to their destinations.

The only fowl not going anywhere is George.  He's too busy baking brownies, carrot cakes, and other pastries.  He tells Pascal, the bear, that there's also ironing to do and yoga to practice so that's a no to Paris. The Andes - Nah.  But Pascal really wants a warm place to stay, like the Carribean.  

After all the excuses, because that's what they are, excuses, George finally admits the truth.  Together Pascal and George form a plan to fly...somewhere else.  

I love this story. It's unexpected.  It's poignant.  

For pre-K and older readers of all ages.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


In Bear and Chicken, Chicken wakes up to see sharp teeth, a cookbook and a pot of boiling soup.  AAARRRGGGHHH!  Bear is going to eat Chicken for dinner after finding her frozen outside in the snow.   

My question is, why is the chicken walking around in the snow with a hobo stick?  Why is the bear walking around in the winter?  Isn't he suppose to be hibernating? 

A case of misunderstanding leads Chicken and the reader to think that Bear will be eating Chicken but Bear is just trying to warm up the unconscious thing.  There's even a recipe for soup (minus the chicken) at the end of this humorous book by Jannie Ho.  

For a  read-aloud and readers in Kindergarten to Second grade.