Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Determined to prove there is life on the red planet a young astronaut lands on Mars.  He carries with him a gift, wrapped with a red ribbon, to give to the aliens he is certain he will meet.

Alone, the young astronaut wanders the barren landscape.  The cold, silent darkness seems to stretch on forever in all directions as the astronaut climbs up and down the rocky terrain. 

Author-illustrator Jon Agee makes great use of color, using primarily black, gray, brown and red to help us feel a sense of emptiness in the landscape and to allow us to see what our young astronaut misses, a large friendly red-pink alien following behind him seemingly confused by the astronaut's presence. 

As the young astronaut’s excitement and certainty fade, making way for sadness and despair, he leaves his gift behind and continues his trek, soon discovering that he is lost. 

As he walks on in search of his space craft he is amazed to discover a flower growing among the rocks and decides that his trip was not a total waste.  As he crests another hill he finds his spacecraft along with the gift he discarded earlier. 

Aboard his ship, making the long journey home to Earth, he decides he deserves a treat for his hard work and discovery.  He opens the gift he had brought with him and discovers that the chocolate cupcake had been eaten…

Get swept away with your little one in Life on Mars, perfect for children in preschool through third grade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


As the title Frank the Seven-Legged Spider implies, our lovable protagonist faces a bit of an existential crisis in this spirited and rollicking picture book from author-illustrator Michaele Razi. Frank begins the story as an eight-legged spider (which immediately gave this reviewer some anxiety, of course, as we know by the title that things will inevitably go terribly awry!) who spins the most magnificent webs, but wakes up one morning to find one of his precious legs has mysteriously disappeared. Where could it be? If Frank can't find his lost limb, will he still be able to do all the things he loves? And, most importantly, is Frank still a spider if he only has seven legs? 

Young readers will follow Frank's search for his missing appendage--and ultimately his identity apart from physical attributes like the number of legs he has--with fascination, empathy, and more than a few laughs along the way. This silly yet sincere story of self discovery and finding your inner strength is perfect for sharing with preschoolers through second graders. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The boy that Smoot, our titular fun-loving shadow, is attached to sadly leads a pretty humdrum existence--always sitting still, coloring within the lines, and never daring to do anything fun or extraordinary. Sigh. One day, when he just can't take the boredom anymore, the intrepid shadow decides to strike off on his own to have some real adventures--jumping rope in the park, climbing trees, riding the merry-go-round, and just going wild to his heart's content.  And unlike in Peter Pan, Smoot is not about to be captured and sewed back together with his person. But when the other shadows see what Smoot has done and all the fun he's having, they stage a rebellion of their own. From dandelions to dragonflies, other shadows start to run amok, creating confusion aplenty. But once all the shadows have their fun will they ever want to come back?

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, imaginatively written by Michelle Cuevas and brilliantly illustrated by Sydney Smith, is an inventive and jubilant picture book about a shadow gone AWOL and living life to its fullest, perfect for sharing with kindergartners through second graders. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Fuddles does not like the new visitor, a dog who drools and makes too much of a commotion.  He tells Puddles to go away--it's his house--but when Fuddles accidentally lands on top of the doghouse next door, unable to escape the ferocious dog, Puddles comes to Fuddle's rescue. Fuddles finally realizes what a true friend Puddles is and they happily share their home together.  

Fuddles and Puddles by local author Frans Vischer is another fun story for readers in preschool through 2nd grade.   

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


As a child, Temple Grandin felt different than everyone else, and didn't seem to fit in with the children around her--she hated loud sounds, crowded places, frilly dresses, and being hugged. It was hard for her to communicate in words instead of tantrums in school. But the thing that made her stand out the most was the way her brain worked--as the title reveals, Temple thought in pictures. And when she was later kicked out of school and sent to live on her aunt's farm, that's when she found her true calling--inventing and building machines to solve problems for the farmers and help the animals be more comfortable. 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, thoughtfully written by Julia Finley Mosca and lovingly illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is an inspiring picture book biography that tells the story of Temple Grandin's struggles and triumphs in simple verse and charming art. This book also works as wonderful read aloud about celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and believing in yourself. Additional backmatter, including a timeline, biography, and fun facts from the author's interview with Dr. Grandin, help provide a more complete picture of her life and work. 

A good fit for students in kindergarten through second grade--or anyone who loves stories about the power of determination and perseverance.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Toddler whisperer/children's book creator Emma Garcia is back with another sure-fire hit in her new picture book, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. Perfect for storytime as well as sharing individually, this bright and boldly illustrated book covers lots of concept territory--it's obviously a train book, first and foremost, but also includes numbers and animals. Though the text is appropriately brief for the toddler crowd, a story line takes shape between the multiple concepts being explored. As the train makes it's way from the seashore, through the forest, through the city, and past the farmyard, before it finally pulls into the station, picking up different numbers and types of birds along the way. 

A can't-miss book for young train enthusiasts and fan's of Garcia's other vehicle-laden titles, this book is also just the ticket for building multiple early literacy skills, including narrative skills, print awareness, and phonological awareness. Full steam ahead!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


In Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, Charlotte uses the scientific method to solve her problem ... not enough space in her large rabbit family.  Tired of not having enough space in the bathroom, or anywhere for that matter, Charlotte designs and builds a rocket to fly to the moon where there will be no crowding.  With plenty of room on the moon, she performs all the experiments she could want and take long leisurely baths.  Unfortunately Charlotte experiences an unexpected problem in space by herself and so she decides to tackle one final experiment.  

A fun book for preschoolers through second graders, written by Camille Andros and illustrated by Brianne Farley, about getting what you wish for.  

Monday, September 25, 2017


This is a story about a bad seed. I mean really bad. The baddest of all the seeds, the absolute worst. All the other seeds know it, too--just ask them. They whisper when then see him coming, "there goes a baaaad seed." But how bad can he really be? Well, he never puts things back where they belong, cuts in line, never listens to anyone, and tells long jokes with no punch lines, and that's just for starters. Like I said, bad.

The seed in question wasn't always this way, so how did he get to be so bad in the first place? Read this clever, hilarious, and surprisingly heartfelt picture book to hear the origin tale of the bad seed--and find out if there's any chance of redemption for our self-proclaimed antihero. 

The Bad Seed, artfully written by Jory John and charmingly illustrated by Pete Oswald, is a natural born read-aloud, sure to entertain and delight preschoolers through second graders. Not half bad--on the contrary, all good! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Sam comes to the construction site everyday to watch the workers at the construction site but on this particular day some older boys dare him to go inside the site itself.  To their horror, Sam begins to  behave unexpectedly.  He takes their dare and drives off in the cement mixer and then pour wet concrete all over the road.  He behaves in more seemingly crazy ways for a little boy.  Scared that they have egged Sam on and are in a heap of trouble, the boys run after him, but the chaos just continues.  

But Sam is observant and clever and his actions are very logical and reasonable.  Find out what Sam is up to as he drives different types of construction vehicles in this madcap romp through the city.
There's humor, tension and action for everyone who enjoy cars, construction and a good story in Sam and the Construction Site by Tjibbe Veldkamp and Alice Hoogstad.  

For preschool through second grade.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017


It’s been a superb year for picture book sequels, and I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t highlight Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown’s latest collaboration: a long-awaited follow up to the amazing Creepy Carrots! For those unfamiliar with the original (please rectify this situation ASAP), the spooky story centers around young Jasper Rabbit, who, after enjoying one too many tasty carrots from a nearby field, suddenly finds himself relentlessly and creepily pursued by the vegetables in question. Noir-styled black and white illustrations enhance the spook factor, while the premise (creepy... carrots, um really?) and text lend an air of ridiculousness to the whole affair. This book makes a fantastic read-aloud for grades 2-5, and was such a hit with Children’s Room staff, that we even dressed up as the titular characters one Halloween.

The sequel, Creepy Pair of Underwear!, shares the same combination of spooky + ridiculousness, as Jasper Rabbit, now a “big rabbit,” goes underwear shopping with his mother. Yielding to Jasper’s cajoling, mom agrees to purchase one pair of Creepy Underwear for him in addition to his standard Plain White. Unbeknownst to the no-longer-a-little-bunny, however, properties of the the new Creepy Underwear include: glowing a ghoulish green, alarmingly replacing other underpants on his body despite deliberate removal, and eerily reappearing everywhere after being thrown out and snipped into pieces. Will Jasper Rabbit ever succeed in ridding himself of unwanted Creepy Underwear?

Share Creepy Pair of Underwear! with one and all--you can be sure this children’s librarian will!

Grades 2+

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Drawn by the sweet sound of Hattie's singing, Hudson the lake "monster" pokes his head up to the surface to check it out, but then goes back into hiding when the other lake goers are frightened by him.  Determined to find the animal in the lake and confirm that it is just a curious thing, Hattie hatches a plan to get everyone to see Hudson as a friendly creature of the lake instead something to fear.

Hattie & Hudson, written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, is a sweet story of friendship with vibrant illustrations.  It is perfect read-aloud for all ages.

Thursday, September 07, 2017


The fun-loving fowl of Cockatoo, Too (reviewed here) are back with more lively language play, and this time they’re stirring things up with a new recipe. Yes, it’s a delicious toucan stew!

No, wait! Come back, toucans! I meant a “delicious two-can stew for toucans, too” not “toucan stew”! Oh, dear. (Or, perhaps, “old deer”?)

Full of wit and humor, author-illustrator Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s new picture book, Toucans, Too, follows a series of quite understandable misunderstandings involving cockatoos, toucans, two-can stews, canoes, gnus, and cuckoos, too. It’s a worthy sequel. (“See quail”? Maybe next time!)

Ages 2+

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


When enthusiastic Little E joins his fellow construction vehicles on a new neighborhood project, he tips and tumbles as he attempts to find a task fit for his diminutive size. Full of fun onomatopoeia and familiar big rigs that your budding construction expert will love, Little Excavator is a story about patience, acceptance, and honoring contributions big and small. This rhyming picture book for toddlers and preschoolers was written and illustrated by the late Anna Dewdney (1965-2016), who was best known for her Llama Llama series.

I read Little Excavator with a fluttering enjoyment and a sorrowful pang, knowing that this is Dewdney’s final fully completed work. More stories born of her ideas and sketches will be published in coming years, but she will never see them to completion. Little Excavator is small, but eager to contribute. In the end, what they’ve built together is a park: a community space for children and families to play in, to grow in, and to love. It’s a fitting metaphor for Anna Dewdney’s work as a whole: that which nurtured, guided, and grew a community of readers.

Ages 2+

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Everyone always talks about how they feel about going to school, but does anyone know how the school feels? No one really knows the difficulties the school faces with waking up to noisy children.  

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex is a hilarious book describing the first day of school...from the school's point of view. The school building is the main character who shares his feelings and purpose. This is a wonderful picture book to share with young readers ages 4 through 7.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Spencer is everything you expect a young boy to be. He is strong and fast, tall and loud, funny and wild, messy and free.  Then, one special day, Spencer becomes something more.  He is quiet and gentle as, for the first time ever, Spencer is a big brother.  Told through simple words and expressive art One Special Day, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Jessica Meserve, is an ideal story for families expecting a second sibling.

This book is perfect for children 2 – 5 years old. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017


It’s a crisis! A catastrophe! A calamity of epic proportions! Quick, do something RIGHT NOW, because tacos have just gone completely extinct!

And, as you may recall from author-illustrator duo Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri’s first book: Dragons Love Tacos. (If you haven’t read the original book, you might also glean this tidbit from the informative titles of both books. You should really read the original, though, because a little more context could certainly help. Plus, it’s hilarious.) Dragons love all kinds of tacos: big tacos, little tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos-- just not the spicy tacos (that’s kind of an important detail). Yes, the dragons are deeply enamored with tacos, and the current state of emergency has rendered them completely hysterical; they’re sobbing, pacing, rolling on the ground in fits.

There’s only one solution to this problem, and I’m sure you already know what it is.

Yes, you guessed it: fire up the ol’ time machine in the garage, return to a period in which tacos were plentiful, avoid spicy salsa, quickly rescue a few dozen specimen before the dragons gobble them all up, and bring them back to the present to replenish the taco reserve. Easy peasy, right? I mean, it will be once you’ve figured out how to operate the time machine.

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel is an enjoyable and wacky picture book ready to be shared aloud with kids in kindergarten through third grade. Just make sure you read the original too!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


In the latest book from the popular series, Andy and Sandy enter a talent show at their school. Sandy encourages Andy to dance with her, but Andy is shy because he doesn't know how. Sandy is a good friend and helps Andy by teaching him. With lots of practice, Andy is feeling more confident than ever. How well will they do in their big debut? 

Andy & Sandy and the Big Talent Show, by beloved author-illustrator Tomie DePaola, ​is the perfect series for beginning readers all around. Andy and Sandy will delight the hearts of young children through the beautiful illustrations and story of true friendship. Tomie DePaola expertly captures the essence of friends overcoming fear together. 

This book, and the other titles in the Andy & Sandy series, are great early readers for children in kindergarten through second grade. 

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.