Friday, August 18, 2017


Sure, we know that dogs go woof, cats go meow, and birds go tweet . . . but what does the aardvark say? In the nonfiction picture book Can an Aardvark BARK? author Melissa Sweet and artist Steve Jenkins (who have both received Caldecott Honors for their illustration work) team up to answer that question, exploring many of the lesser-known animal sounds out there. Who barks, who grunts, who squeals, and who bellows? What kind of animals whine and laugh, just like you and I? 

Sweet's primary text is written in rhyme simple enough to work as a lively nonfiction read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers (a great choice for building background knowledge!), while the captions corresponding with each illustration offer fascinating information about the other animals who grunt, bellow, or laugh, for older readers who want to know more. Meanwhile Jenkins' signature expressive cut-paper artwork really brings each animal to life--the African crested porcupine (who whines, by the way) looks as it could poke you right through the page, while the gorilla baby looks tempting enough to tickle so you can hear its giggle.

Whether in a group setting or individually, this is a perfect informational picture book to share with animal lovers from toddlers to second graders.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Many Moons by Remi Courgeon illustrates what we've always known - finger nail clippings do look like tiny crescent shaped moons.   Each night a different person sees the moon and it reminds them of a variety of things from a banana to a smile. 

This is a lovely and unexpected book on the daily changing shapes of the moon and what it images and thoughts it evokes.  It's basically the night version of looking at the clouds  as they pass overhead.  

For preschool to second grade. 

Friday, August 11, 2017


Have you ever played hide-and-seek with an elephant before? A boy is doing just that, but it seems the large animal is nowhere to be found. Can you see the elephant blending into the pages as the beautiful colors and illustrations try to fool your eyes? Will the boy find elephant in the end? 

Have You Seen Elephant? written and illustrated by David Barrow has beautiful and colorful illustrations, and is perfect for readers who enjoy silly stories and fun games.  

A great read aloud for children ages 2 and up.  

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


The Starry Giraffe is very very tall.  He's so tall that all the shorter animals ask him to reach for an apple from the way too tall apple tree for them.  Mouse would like one, then the raccoons, and even the tiny inch worm.  Will there be any apples left on the apple tree for the hungry giraffe?  Illustrated with bold yet simple graphic images and text, this is an adorable read-aloud with a gentle message about sharing and reward by Andy Bergmann

For toddlers through 2nd grade. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


The Queen's Handbag, whimsically written and illustrated by Steve Antony, follows Her Royal Highness--in hot pursuit of a sneaky swan who has stolen her handbag--on a trip all over Great Britain. Whether by car, by plane, by horse, or by parachute, the queen is determined to chase down the thief and reclaim her purse in grand style. From England to Wales to Ireland to Scotland and back again, this high-speed chase visits landmark after landmark, giving readers a veritable first-class if quite madcap tour of the best of the United Kingdom. 

Meticulously illustrated in a stylistically limited palette of blacks, blues, and reds, the artwork in this picture book certainly lends itself to readers poring over all the clever details from Windsor Castle to the White Cliffs of Dover and everywhere in between. Will the exceptionally intrepid queen finally apprehend the aviary bandit by journey's end? Armchair adventurers will have to follow her on travels to find out. 

This royally entertaining picture book should be a smashing success with preschoolers through second graders. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017


The pond is a beautiful place as the young boy and his dog in this story come to find out. Be still and you can observe the sounds and chatter of many different animals surrounding the pond. There's a commotion that connects all of the animals together. Though in the end all is forgotten, and peace and tranquility come back to the pond as the day ends. 

On Duck Pond written by Jane Yolen, with art by Bob Marshall, beautifully illustrates the habitat of animals that live around the duck pond. Descriptive words are used to spark your imagination as you flip through the pages.  
What animals do you see at the duck pond? How does the duck pond make you feel? 

This book is a perfect read-aloud for children ages 4 and up. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Well, it seems that Laurie Berkner has gone and done it again: she has taken another of her beloved songs, We Are the Dinosaurs, from sheet music to illustrated picture book. If you've ever been to this reviewer's storytime, you are probably aware of the song from Berkner's Whaddaya Think of That? album--and what a crowd pleaser it is. This new picture book is much more than just lyrics on a page--illustrator Ben Clanton's bright and cheery illustrations combine with the catchy song to create a rollicking volume sure to be a hit with toddlers, whether it be in storytime or at bedtime. Used with the song or standing on its own, this title is perfect for dinosaur enthusiasts from babies to preschoolers. 

This is just one of many fun and infectious songs by the popular children's musician, so be sure to check out some of Laurie Berkner's many albums. And, to find out more about any of our early literacy storytime programs, contact the Children's Room at (818) 548-2036, or stop by any of our branches to pick up a copy of our latest Family Events!   

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Little Plane is ready to learn how to write, but first he must go to school to practice. Little Plane learns writing by flying in arcs, dives, and loopity-loops.  He's excited to practice every day, but has trouble completing the loopity-loops, which make him too dizzy. How will Little Plane become the perfect writer that he so desperately wants to be? 

Little Plane Learns to Write, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage, is a beautiful picture book about learning to write the ABC's. A perfect book for airplane lovers, it also teaches children that writing takes practice... and with enough practice, you can accomplish anything.

This is a great read-aloud for children ages 3 and up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


You might have played the game Rock Paper Scissors before (maybe with a friend to decide who will get the last piece of pizza?) but you've probably never considered it's origin story. Where did they come from and how did their first battle come about? Wonder no more with the publication of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex. This hilariously clever picture book tells all, from Rock's first challenge in the Kingdom of Backyard to Paper's battles with Printer in the Empire of Mom's Home Office to Scissors's many trials in the Kitchen Realm to their eventual final confrontation. Each one was a victor in his or her own stomping grounds, but who will emerge triumphant when they finally meet one another and wage the ultimate war? 

Daywalt (author of the beloved Day the Crayons Quit and Day the Crayons Came Home) keeps readers guessing who the champion will be while Rex gives them many entertaining details to pore over, making this a fun picture book to read aloud in a group setting or to share one-on-one with preschoolers to second graders. 

The battle lines have been (cleverly) drawn, but no matter which character comes out victorious, this book is sure win over anyone who reads it.  

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Secrets always start off with a whisper, but that whisper can be heard by many beautiful things in this world. Where does a secret travel to after a little girl shares it with her puppy? 

Secrets I Know written by Kallie George and art by Paola Zakimi, is beautifully illustrated. This book needs to be read more than once as it may start off slow at first. In the end, the whisper that the girl is seen sharing with her puppy carries itself to the stars in the night sky. The illustrations and words in this story are descriptive and colorful.

A perfect read for children ages 4 and up. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


For every child that has experienced the aching uncertainty of loneliness and belonging, here is a story drawn from celebrated children’s book author Shannon Hale’s memory of finding, losing, and reimagining friendships.

Growing up as a middle child of five, young Shannon constantly finds herself the odd one out as her older and younger siblings pair off to play. Desperately lonely, Shannon is ecstatic to make one good friend on her first day of kindergarten. She and her new friend, Adrienne, are inseparable as they embark on imaginative adventures at school and home, and Shannon is confident that she has found all she needs in Adrienne.

But when Adrienne joins the popular girls’ group in third grade, things get complicated for Shannon. Where does she stand? Is she in the Group? Are these girls her friends? Why does one girl in the Group keep telling lies about her to the others? Does she still have a best friend?

Spanning the author’s elementary school years, Real Friends by Shannon Hale presents a story that is authentic, compelling, and relatable, with artwork by LeUyen Pham that is appealing and complementary. It’s a perfect fit for Raina Telgemeier fans.

For other great middle grade graphic novels about friendship check out Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl (reviewed by Meghan here), Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward (previously reviewed here), and Cece Bell’s El Deafo (reviewed by Anush here).

Grades 3-7

Thursday, June 22, 2017


As Bulldozer watches all his fellow construction vehicles working away--stirring, lifting, scooping--he wonders how he can help too. Bulldozer is eager to find his calling and help the others accordingly, but the other trucks tell him building skyscrapers is only a job for rough, tough trucks. So when they do find a suitable job for Bulldozer, they are perplexed to find him sitting still, not flattening the pile they asked him to clear. Why won't Bulldozer just help out and do his job? 

Bulldozer Helps Out by Candace Flemming, illustrated by Caldecott-winning artist Eric Rohmann, is definitely not your average construction vehicle book (though it will certainly please that crowd too!). It also offers a heartwarming and adorable twist that shows how toughness takes many forms, not just might and muscle, and that everyone has their own purpose to serve--they just have to find it.

With delightfully bright and bold art and a message that's both inspiring and cleverly told, this captivating picture book will appeal to toddlers through kindergartners, and anyone who's looking for their place to belong.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


The cat arrives in to town walking slightly askew.  The townspeople begin to notice the tilted cat and that things are no longer their usual selves like the hair cuts are different and yet everyone loves them.  Catawampus' tilt begin to change people's attitudes, how they look at things and even they build, too.  

Was this Catawampus' intent?  Did he mean to change everything? Check out the endpages with a drawn map showing Catawampus' route through town.  The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by Gus Gordon is a silly and enjoyable read for readers 4 years old and up.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Old MacDonald had a farm and on his farm he had a collection of vehicles.  From a plane to a fire truck, he had it all. This retelling of the traditional song "Old MacDonald" introduces a variety of vehicles and the noises they make. 

Old MacDonald’s Things That Go by Jane Clarke, with illustrations by Migy Blanco, is a great read on the subject of transportation.   With colorful and large illustrations, this is definitely a great read a-loud for children ages 2 and up. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Attention adventure and robot lovers, this book is for you. Otto the robot loves to seek adventures despite the dangers. Otto sets off to explore space in his spaceship but things don’t go as planned and he lands on Earth.  What will he find there? 

See Otto, part of The Adventures of Otto series written by David Milgrim, tells an exciting story of a robot through easy and repetitive vocabulary and illustrations.  It's perfect for readers who enjoy space, rockets and adventures, and those practicing to read on their own. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017


It’s 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, and ten-year-old Beans Curry has had enough of working for close-fisted hoodwinkers. With an eye towards enterprise, he and his eight-year-old brother, Kermit, have been taking on odd jobs around town to help their unemployed parents make ends meet in a time when everyone is struggling.

Like everyone else in the close-knit community of Key West, Florida, Beans isn’t ready to trust the stranger in a shiny automobile from Washington D.C. with New Deal aspirations to turn the island into a tourist destination. Why would people want to travel across the country just to vacation in a town full of dilapidated homes, overflowing garbage, pot-holed dirt roads, and swarms of scraggly children? And besides, how can you trust a guy who walks around town in his underwear? Bermuda shorts, he says? — Beans doesn’t think so.

When a local bootlegger offers Beans a tidy sum to create a distraction, Beans seizes the opportunity to help his family. But after tragedy strikes as a consequence of his actions and the community mistakenly lauds him as a hero, Beans decides he will do anything to repay their trust. Saving Key West will be his biggest enterprise yet.

Jennifer Holm’s middle grade novel Full of Beans is a heartfelt and humorous prequel to her 2011 Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise. The author’s note includes additional information on the background of Key West and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ultimately saved the bankrupt town and shaped its history as a present-day tourism hotspot.

Grades 4+

Monday, June 05, 2017


The refugee crisis around the world has been featured in the news a great deal recently and Rosemary McCarney's nonfiction picture book Where Will I Live? is a moving and important introduction for readers who still might be a bit too young to understand all the nuances of this complex and timely topic.

McCarney boils this intricate issue down to the basics with simple text beginning "...When Soldiers fight or danger comes families must pack their things and search for a new place to live." It features stirring and poignant photographs of refugee children and families all over the world--from Hungary to Rwanda, Lebanon to Greece, and beyond--who have been displaced from their homes and cities and countries and are looking for a new place to belong. In portraying the moments of sadness and dire need as well as moments of forming bonds of fellowship even in such harrowing circumstances, McCarney shows just how much human beings have in common and how the need--not just for shelter, but for community--is universal no matter where in the world someone is born.

This precursory resource on refugees is both poignant and topical, and should prove useful as an introduction to this current worldwide issue for children in kindergarten through second grade. In order to further supplement this simple nonfiction picture book with more concrete information, look for more detailed and complex resources in our children's nonfiction section.

Thursday, June 01, 2017


What's black and white and (soon to be) read all over? The hilarious book The Skunk by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. Why would a skunk be following you? That's what the tuxedoed man at the center of this whimsical picture book mystery wants to know. Everywhere he goes--down sidestreets, on the ferris wheel, to the opera--the skunk is only a few steps behind. What does he want and why won't he just leave our main character alone? 

With funny yet understated text and droll illustrations, young readers will delight as the narrator goes to greater and greater lengths to lose the skunk hot on his trail. But he spends so much time trying to get away from his notoriously smelly pursuer, he hasn't thought about how he might feel if he actually gets what he thinks he wants. 

This stinking cute picture book makes a winning read-aloud for preschoolers to second-graders alike. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Oh, excuse me. Yes, I am talking to you, dear reader, so blithely scrolling through these reviews! (please wave toward the screen if you can read this) Are you by chance seeking another interactive picture book to share with your little one? Maybe your hands are eager to clap, fingers are keen to tap, arms are primed to flap, but your eyes are tired of staring at some old app? Maybe you’ve already read and gushed over Herve Tullet’s Press Here and all the other books mentioned in these earlier reviews (<- click to read). Or maybe you’d really like a cat or dog, but are severely allergic?

If so, good news! (clap here) You might be interested in two new offerings published by minibombo: The Cat Book by Silvia Borando and The Dog Book by Lorenzo Clerici. Get ready to stroke, tickle, and squeeze your very own two-dimensional furry pet. From messy bath times to flea control, readers can experience it all! Well, almost all.

Now wiggle your fingers and click the book cover images to find these titles at your nearest Glendale/Pasadena library! (it’s basically magic)

Ages 2+

Thursday, May 25, 2017


All We Know by Linda Ashman is a beautiful book about a mother who shares information about the world with her child. It's a lovely poem in rhyme, exploring feelings, nature and discovery. The text is accompanied by simple, soft and realistic watercolor illustrations by Jane Dyer.

This is a great read-aloud for preschoolers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


A baby experiences new things after turning one and the experience is either filled with joy or sometimes sadness. Progressing into other stages of development such as, exploration, teething, and developing early language skills are fun and can be challenging at times, but the adult's love for the baby remains constant and will never change.

You Are One by Sara O'Leary is a gentle story.  With a combination of photos and other mediums by illustrator Karen Klassen, one can reflect on the tender moments of the past or share it with young children, offering a glimpse of the one year milestone.  Embrace each moment. 

For adults to enjoy alone or to share with children, ages 2-5 years.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Jack lives in a land of mystical creatures. When one of the creatures takes his best friend away forever, he is determined to find out why. In the midst of his investigation, he encounters a slew of fairies and like creatures who are being targeted, sorted, and taken away; another mystery for him to solve!  

Jack is a ten year old who learns that his father is Death, and he's not to interfere with whatever is going on. It's troubling to him to see innocent lives being drastically affected, so with the help of a few friends he's able to learn more about what it will take to stand up to injustice and his father.

M.L. Windsor writes a story for those interested in mystical creatures or would like to enjoy a Lemony Snicket read-alike.  Jack Death is a fast paced novel that's sprinkled with humor and unforgettable characters, but note that there are also grisly scenes (Spoiler Alert: bad guys can eat their victims in three bites) that will leave readers bug-eyed and maybe wanting a sequel. 

For grades 6-8, not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


In Tidy a fanatical badger likes everything neat and tidy but he may be just a tad too neat for his own good.  When Pete the Badger's excitement over a supremely neat and clean forest makes it impossible for him to get into his home because he has laid concrete over the entire forest floor was just too much, even for him.  The only thing left for him and the forest friends to do is to break up the extremely clean habitat with a bit of a mess and enjoy a picnic together. 

Emily Gravett has given us another wonderfully illustrated story about all things in moderation, even ecological conservation.  

For ages 4 and up.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Like all of Todd Parr’s books, this book also sends a great message to children about always loving yourself and embracing uniqueness.  The colorful and child-like illustrations with simple text make the simple message of the book clear to its audience.

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, is a great addition to any collection.  Children as young as newborn to first grade will enjoy this title.  

Thursday, May 04, 2017

1, 2, and NOW 3!

Sara O'Leary's thoughtful story brings to light the many exciting changes that occur when a child turns three. The experience of discovery, conversation, socialization and wonder is packaged in this one picture book. "Three is a busy age.." and Karen Klassen captures the three year old's day by showing photographs of a diverse group of children in mixed media illustrations with beautiful hues of orange, blue, and green

For 2- 5 years.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


Who doesn’t love a story about baby animals? Especially when the vibrant and adorable illustrations include humorous rhyming text on each turning page.

Animal Babies Do theStrangest Things is written and illustrated by Charles Fuge.  With little fun facts about different animals, this book will not only entertain but also teach children about different baby animals.  Great read aloud for toddlers to kinder.     

Thursday, April 27, 2017


If everyone else is yawning, will it make you yawn too? Just try to avoid it when reading Everyone Is Yawning written and illustrated by Anita Bijsterbosch--it's not an easy feat! From snake to turtle, the youngest readers will delight in each page, as we lift up the flap to reveal what it looks like inside each animal's mouth when it yawns. And of course there's a glimpse of what it looks like when children yawn too! 

This simple but totally captivating interactive book featuring adorably bold illustrations is bound to be a crowd-pleaser and a favorite bedtime read for babies to preschoolers. As contagious as an actual yawn, this book is sure to be one that's asked for again and again. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Summer vacation has begun and the Fletcher Family has set off for Rock Island!  One of the main attractions to see is a beloved lighthouse, but once they make their way to it there is something undeniably different about it.  Many changes occur this vacation season, and each of the Fletcher boys experience a memorable summer, but will Jackson, the Fletcher's African-American son's memories be as wonderful as the others?

Dana Alison Levy's The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island adventure is still rich with fun, humor, love, and support of one another. What was surprisingly different in this story and yet, important to note, is that the novel lightly touches upon the treatment of others based on race and ethnicity.  A good read and possibly a discussion starter on racial diversity.  

For 5th grade and up. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Pete the Cat is back and this time instead of losing his “groovy buttons,” the cupcakes he and his friend Gus made for their cupcake party mysteriously go missing.  As Pete and Gus look for clues to find their missing cupcakes, the cupcakes continue to disappear in twos. 

This Pete the Cat series addition, Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes, is written and illustrated by Kimberly & James Dean.  It makes for a great read aloud and with the cupcakes missing in twos, kids will enjoy counting down the cupcakes. 

A great read for children in Pre-K to Kindergarten. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg is another fun twist on the Sherlock Holmes craze.  Only this time the great genius detective is a young girl and Watson is the new neighbor living with his single mom in the same New York apartment building.  Shelby is years younger than any other sixth grader but John, being new and it's summer, has no choice but to befriend this strange girl.

Her reputation in the neighborhood is that of a great problem solver, everyone knows her, she knows everyone AND she's a know it all. When a classmate pulls up in a chauffeured car and asks Shelby to help find her missing dog, John Watson jumps in as well because no matter how odd she is, she is one interesting kid and it is bound to lead to some great excitement.  

For readers in 4th- 6th grades. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017


This book takes readers on an adventure into the life of a bird.  With the turning of the pages, readers are introduced to an array of birds of which they can pretend to be.  The beautiful and vibrant illustrations, accompanied by the creative rhyming text makes this book a wonderful read-aloud.  Children will also enjoy acting out the different behaviors of the birds.

Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins is a wonderful addition to any library.  This is appropriate for newborn to preschool age.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Hippo and Red Panda are tired of their neglected and rundown zoo so they go out to the human world and in order to find amazing jobs.  Each new job comes with a different hat and skill set but none are right for them.  After being fired from all of these amazing jobs (cook, dental assistant, construction worker, etc.), Red Panda runs out of optimism and Hippo is feeling down in the dumps. Hippo and Red Panda realize how their true skills and talents can best be put to use.

A new graphic novel filled with humor, a lot of silliness but at it's core it's a story of friendship and self-discovery. 
Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green is great for beginning readers, graphic novel lovers and anyone else who enjoys a read aloud.   

For Kindergarten through 4th grade.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


A peek through Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker by Jessica Ahlberg takes a jump through different fairy tale locations--literally--through a hole in each page when a little girl runs after her dog, an escapee from her bedroom, into the three bear's house because he didn't want to listen to another a story.   As the reader turns the page, the dog leads him/her into a new fairy tale until they all end up back in the little girl's bedroom where she now has a larger audience who will listen to her stories.

For readers ages 3 and up. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


"It's way too early. My beak is cold. What's with all the squawking, you guys?" Those are just the first few of many, many complaints laid out by the contrary penguin narrator of Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith. From the frigid temperatures to some dubious encounters with fellow wildlife, from his flightlessness to his waddle, just try to stop this penguin from airing a relentless barrage of grievances, whether or not anyone really cares. But when a concerned and supportive walrus stops by to wax philosophical and offer advice about looking on the bright side, will our lovably misanthropic penguin have a change of heart and adjust his outlook on life from #penguinproblems to #blessed? 

This delightfully droll picture book from the beloved author-illustrator team makes a great read-aloud to share with preschoolers through second graders, and offers something for everyone, pessamists and glass-half-full types alike.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Yoshitsune was a young boy when his father’s life was taken ruthlessly during the war. This was the way of life for a samurai warrior during 12th Century Japan.   As in any war there are two sides: the winning side, Taira, and the losing side, Minamoto.  Both samurai clans fought to the end.

Afterwards Kiyomori, a Taira leader, allowed baby Yoshitsune to live with the monks rather than have him killed. Young Yoshitsune did not grow up to look like a warrior from a long line of samaurai, but was a frail, unskilled man who  yearned to escape the monastery in order to live up to the Minamoto legacy and overthrow the Taira clan.

It is not often that a reader will find a non-fiction children’s book that captures one's attention like a novel.  This particular book is captivating when describing the characters and the battles in careful detail. The author, Pamela Turner, does not hold back nor does she sugarcoat scenes; instead, she has shared the story in such a way that leaves the reader completely immersed in history. Turner does a noteworthy job providing pronunciations of names in Japanese as well as offering notes for her sources.

Samurai Rising is highly recommended. Find out what became of young Yoshitsune. 

For ages 13 and up.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Max just finished cleaning his room and off he zooms on a super adventure: dodging volcanoes, dealing with sharks and super secret underwater caves, and just having a good time. An adorable preschooler, Max is drawn with bright simple illustrations, shown having a good old time imagining himself in fun and exciting fantasy play.  

Max Speed by Stephen Shaskan makes for great read aloud fun with your toddlers up through kindergarteners. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


It’s springtime again, and a new picture book by author-illustrator Christie Matheson is blossoming once more.

Following the success of Tap the Magic Tree (a storytime favorite for all ages!) and Touch the Brightest Star, Plant the Tiny Seed presents a simple interactive story of growing zinnias from seed to flower. As in previous books, readers are invited to tap, clap, wiggle, and rub images to progress the story. Nature is a marvel, and this book beckons to young listeners with the promise that magic is everywhere.

For a complete toddler-friendly gardening experience, check out Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott. To explore more interactive app-like picture books for a screen-free audience, look for Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup, This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne (previously reviewed here), and books by Herve Tullet.

Ages 2+

Thursday, March 16, 2017


A book review by Theresa: 

One of the things I always tell people browsing the shelves for something to read is to just look at the spines of the books, pull out a title that sounds interesting, look at the cover and if you are still interested, read the inside flap and see if that convinces you. This one fails the first two miserably; spine black, outline of a cloud, author’s name and the word “moo;” cover author’s name, title and a less than appealing drawing of a black and white striped cow. Even I, who really likes this author, had a hard time settling down to read this one. 

MISTAKE! If I had never opened up Sharon Creech’s book Moo, I would have missed some of the best characters in all of stories. Meet Reena, her brother Luke and their parents who have decided to abandon city life and move to rural Maine. Meet also their very unusual neighbor Mrs. Falala and her animals, a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna and a very special cow named Zora. They are the central characters in Reena and Luke’s summer when their parents offer Mrs. Falala, who was very old and rumored to make weird things happen, the services of their children to help out around her small farm. 

Less than thrilled the two kids find themselves doing chores way out of their comfort zone—shoveling out a barn, not fun. Slowly there is a change of attitude when they are challenged with Zora, the loud, belligerent cow and lose their initial fear, ultimately becoming very attached to her. Zora expands their world and teaches them that a little kindness works well for both animals and people. 

This novel is written partly in prose and partly free verse which helps heighten the emotion and the mood and make this a story and characters that will stay with you for a long time. 

For grades 5-8

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


James' father tells him some outrageous tales to get him to eat broccoli, smelly lasagna, slimy eggs, lumpy oatmeal, and repulsive milk ( I'm with you on this one, James).  The story James is told is that if he doesn't eat the smelly lasagna, then the troll chef that made it will have to go back to his awful job at the rat circus.  When James turns down smelly broccoli, his other food choices are sweaty socks, the finest dirt or specially chewed gum. Delishhhh! 

The stories keep getting wilder and wilder with an increasing less gullible James. By the end of the story, James knows how it works and just gives in to the delicious eggs sitting in front of him.  Tales For Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider is for beginning reader in 1st - 2nd grades who enjoy silly humor.  

Thursday, March 09, 2017


Abbie Wu is suffering from an extreme case of the middles.

Not only is Abbie a middle child (squarely between her amazingly good at everything older brother Peter and her annoyingly adorable younger sister Clara), she’s now starting middle school, and she’s currently in the middle of an identity crisis!

It seems like her best friends know exactly where their talents lie: Maxine is natural actress, while Logan is a young tech genius. Meanwhile, Abbie has tried plenty, but has yet to find her Thing. So when it comes time to choose the ever-important elective class, Abbie finds herself in dread study hall instead. But it’s once there that Abbie is drawn into a campus-wide underground lunch revolution that may reveal to everyone, including herself, just how much she has to offer.

With an air of dramatic doom and plenty of attractive cartoon illustrations on every page, Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat is a great read-alike to middle grade staples like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. Perfect for the humorously hyperbolic and melodramatic middle grade reader in your life.

Grades 4-6

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

THE BEST (almost) MAN

 A review by Theresa: 

Newbery Award winning author, Richard Peck starts his latest book The Best Man at one wedding and ends it with another. Narrated by Archer, who was six years old and the reluctant ring bearer at the opening wedding, the story continues until he is in the sixth grade. The events of that take place at that opening wedding are equal to another very funny story also told by a boy* and will have you laughing with tears running from your eyes as one mishap after another happens. Fortunately for Archer the rest of his story runs more smoothly. 

Aside from getting off to a funny start this is a story that has the elements of several stories. It’s a family story about the men Archer wants to be like when he grows up; his grandfather, a great architect; his dad, a great remodeler of cars; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. It’s a school story since so much of the action takes place at school and that is the spot where we meet one of the important characters, Mr. McLeod, the student teacher for Archer’s fifth-grade class. There’s also a touch of romance, a bully or two and a lot of growing up that takes place on these pages in this easy to read very enjoyable novel for grades 5-8.

*The funny book referred to here is Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen. If you like to laugh and have missed this one, get yourself to the library immediately and check it out, along with a copy of The Best Man, of course.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017


These are two more children's cookbooks from the library's collection and with the holidays and vacations coming up, take a through some of these recipes to see if there's some fun cooking to be had with your family.

The Piccolo Chef Cookbook :  Healthy Cooking With Your Kids 
by Fanelli Moraccini and Lilian Palmieri from the children's culinary school in Los Angeles. This book is full of easy recipes for children to follow.  

Chop Chop:  the Kid's Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson is the bound book version of their magazine's recipes for kids.   On top there's a bar that tells you prep time, cook time and if adult help is needed (mostly yes).  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Florian, a 7th grader, is once again at another new school in a new city, despairing about his predicament when the neighbor across the street forces herself into his house and befriends him after demanding to be   shown how TOAST works. TOAST is Florian's methodology of Schedule
observation which helps him adjust to new situations in his life.  While testing out his observational method, the two inadvertently stumble onto the mystery of stolen paintings at the National Gallery where both of Florian's parents work.  

Framed!  A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti is for those who love a good mystery, Sherlock Holmes and a dash of international spy thriller--you will love this book. 

For readers in 6th - 8th grades. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Plum, the dog does not love the new surprise in this new picture book, Plenty of Love to go Around by Emma Chichester Clark. The new pet is a cat, Binky, which is as white as Plum is black.  Binky follows Plum everywhere and gets the attention Plum feels should be his alone.  All his humans love him but Plum's dog friends teases him relentlessly about Binky so he's going to have to something to put an end to all of this unwanted attention. 

Will Plum reject Binky or open his heart to Binky? A touching book about caring and loving of all kind to read to book lovers of all ages.  

Friday, February 10, 2017


"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws..." So begins author-illustrator Brendan Wenzel's newly-awarded Caldecott Honor Book, They All Saw a Cat. While most readers can conjure up a pretty standard image of a black cat, this thought-provoking and innovative picture book makes clear that even something as uniform as that image is still in the eye of its beholder. 

Though the book features simple, streamlined language, it is in the clever and inventive art (which even uses different materials and techniques depending on the page) where the true heart of the story lies. As the cat strolls from page to page, a child, a dog, a mouse, a snake, a bat, and many other animals along the way, each see him very differently, and the fluctuating representation of the black cat--on one page a fierce predator and on another as plump and docile prey, for example--allows the reader a glimpse of the subject from another animal's perspective. 

Even with the concise text, the ideas examined are complex, making this title a good pick for sharing on different levels with preschoolers through second graders. Furthermore, this book would make an engaging introduction to point-of-view and seeing the world through one another's eyes. 

Monday, February 06, 2017


When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad, is nothing but a pure delight. The poems, grouped by season from spring to winter, focus on small moments of the day in perfectly childlike yet lyrically evocative language. Be it getting rain boots soggy, eating peanut butter sandwiches at the beach, watching the last leaf fall from a tree, or sitting by the fire on a cozy snow day, Fogliano finds innovative new ways to relate these universal experiences through the lens of childhood wonder with a striking economy of language. 

Meanwhile, Morstad's lovely goache-and-pencil-crayon illustrations perfectly compliment the simple yet charming words, showcasing a diverse cast of children experiencing all the earthly pleasures each season has to offer. 

This makes a perfect book to share with preschoolers through second graders, no matter the date on the calendar. 

Friday, February 03, 2017


Things can change in a heartbeat. Just ask Noah. One moment he's a pretty regular eleven-year-old living in Oasis, Virginia, looking forward to his friend's birthday party over the weekend. The next, his parents pick him up from school and tell him his name is actually Jonah, he's really only ten, he's from Roanoke, and he's on the way to the airport that very minute to move to East Berlin without taking anything with them. And, since the year is 1989, that means his family will be moving behind the Iron Curtain, where his every move and utterance will be monitored and nothing less than total compliance to the Communist way of life in the German Democratic Republic will be tolerated, where maps show the other side of the Berlin Wall as nonexistent blank space. 

When Jonah (née Noah) meets Claudia--whose parents have disappeared--it seems that she's the only other one who is interested in finding out what's really going on, despite the many strict rules they are told to adhere to--remember they are always listening, don't call attention to yourself, don't let your worries show, never talk about your old life, and so on. Why did his family really come here? What happened to Claudia's parents? And what happens to kids who don't follow the rules? 

This captivating novel packed with strong characters, vivid historical details, and plenty of fast-paced intrigue will keep fifth through eighth graders turning the pages to find out. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017


In Mighty Jack:  Book One, Ben Hatke twists the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk into a more diabolical tale where the plants are not helpful tools leading Jack to fame and fortune, but evil forces to be reckoned with.  The author gives Jack an autistic younger sister, responding only to the seeds and plants that come alive in their yard.  Jack also has a another female spitfire in a new home-schooled neighbor, who loves fighting with cool weapons and dragging Jack headlong into anything that looks like an adventure.  

This is for readers in 4th - 6th grades, especially lovers of graphic novels and Ben Hatke. Keep an eye out for the sequel.