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. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


A book review by Katherine: 

Can he swallow the whole world, that Danny McGee?  Don’t take my word for it, you’ll just have to see. 

What starts as two siblings’ trip to the beach, quickly becomes Danny’s mission to consume everything, and I do mean everything, in the world.  Fans of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein will positively devour the rhymes and flow of Danny McGee Drinks the Sea.  With a pinch of naughtiness, a dash of gluttony and a smidgen of sibling rivalry, this book is the perfect recipe for some lighthearted reading fun.  Andy Stanton’s entertaining rhyming text is perfect for read alouds, while Neal Layton’s amusing illustrations beg for closer inspection in one-on-one or independent readings. 

For ages 4-10    

Tuesday, March 06, 2018


Ready to enjoy some nursery rhymes with a twist? Just take Mother Goose rhythms and Rebecca Colby’s poems, and together they make a rollicking fun book called Motor Goose: Rhymes That Go! These entertaining poems are sure to delight fans of nursery rhyme and cars, trucks, and airplanes. Itsy Bitsy Spider becomes Swoopy-Loopy Airplane and Little Miss Muffet becomes Little Miss MIxer. The whimsically illustrated vehicles by Jef Kaminsky are memorable because of their bright colors and cartoon drawings.

This exciting book is a great one to share with children. Read the unique rhymes fast or slow because they are a fun way for children to develop their phonological skills. By singing these rhymes over and over again, children will have an opportunity to hear the small parts of each word, which will help them as they learn to read. Beep! Beep! Check out this book and goooo... have fun!

For ages 2-5

Thursday, March 01, 2018


It's a busy, busy, busy at the construction site. Dozer, Crane, and Digger are pushing, hoisting, and digging to build tall buildings for working, roads for driving, and bridges for crossing. One day Digger comes across a small, blue flower growing amidst all the construction. As the other construction vehicles keep building up the city, Digger visits the flower each day to nurture it's growth. Soon, the space where the lone little flower is growing is the only place that's not built up, and the Crane insists that they need to put a building there too. Will Digger be able to stop them, and if not, what will become of the last little flower in the city? 

The Digger and the Flower, simply yet poignantly written and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler, is a deceptively quiet picture book that packs a huge emotional punch. Just when things seem devastating, hope peeks through the darkness, and we readers are reminded of the triumph and resilience of the human spirit. Have your tissues handy, parents, because this book might make you cry--first from sadness, but then ultimately from the beauty of hope. 

This is not your typical construction vehicle book--it's a deeply touching read to share with preschoolers through second graders.