Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: 'Over-Scheduled Andrew' written & illustrated by Ashley Spires

✰✰✰✰ Andrew is a very busy little chickadee. He joined the drama club because he loves putting on plays. In order to do better at play rehearsals, Andrew also signs up for debate club, ballet lessons, and karate class. There are so many interesting things to do; Andrew signs up for everything.

Soon Andrew has little time to eat, sleep, or play with his best friend, Edie. When an exhausted Andrew misses out on one of his favorite activities, he must make a choice. How will Andrew turn his life around from over-scheduled to just right? Read the book and find out what Andrew decides to do.

The Bottom Line: School kids today lead very hectic lives. There are so many activities and clubs to join. It's difficult to pick just a few. Kids in grades K – 3 will identify with Andrew's dilemma. This story focuses on the importance of friendship and taking time to unwind. The digitally rendered artwork is crisp and colorful. Great for classroom story hour.

Details: Over-Scheduled Andrew written & illustrated by Ashley Spires. Hardcover picture book published by Tundra Books in 2016. 32 p. ISBN: 9781-77049-484-8 NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: 'The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah' by Leslie Kimmelman

✰✰✰✰½ The little red hen is no stranger to work, but why should she do everything herself when she has friends to help her? Passover will be here all too soon, and preparing for it is a lot of work. The little red hen is not worried; she has many friends. Always one step ahead of everyone else, the little red hen begins preparing for the holiday by planting grain. Who will help her? "Not I," said the Sheep, the Horse, and the Dog. The little red hen soon learns that it is up to her alone to plant, harvest, and carry the wheat to the mill.

As the months go by the little red hen becomes more and more disappointed in her lazy friends. She even has to bake the matzah all by herself. Just when it is time to sit down for the delicious Seder meal, who should show up at her door, but her lazy friends. What is a good hen to do? Turn them out or invite them in? Learn about the real meaning of the celebration in this charming picture book.

The Bottom Line: This little book blends the classic tale of the little red hen with aspects from the Jewish holiday of Passover. Meisel uses simple, colorful artwork in watercolor, pastel, and ink to illustrate this clever story with a twist at the end. The large print is helpful for new readers. This picture book also includes information about the Jewish holiday of Passover, a recipe to make Matzah, and a brief glossary of Yiddish words used in the story. This is perfect for classroom storytime as an introduction to the holiday.

Details: The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah written by Leslie Kimmelman & illustrated by Paul Meisel. Hardcover picture book published by Holiday House in 2010. 28 p. ISBN: 978-0-8234-1952-4

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: 'April Fool, Phyllis!' by Susanna Leonard Hill

✰✰✰✰½ Punxsutawney Phyllis knows everything there is to know about the weather. When she wakes up on April Fools' Day, she notices that something is just not right. Spring should be in the air, but there's a blizzard coming instead. Unfortunately, no one listens to her. After all it's April Fools' Day, and everyone thinks she's joking. Or is she?

To the dismay of Phyllis, the other groundhogs proceed with the Spring Treasure Hunt as plannedAs they begin to solve the riddles, the snowflakes begin to fall. Just when they reach the end of the clues, they must find another answer. With the raging blizzard making it impossible to see, how will the little groundhogs ever find their way home? It's up to Phyllis to find the way back as well as the answer to all the riddles. Phyllis also gets the very last laugh...April Fool!

The Bottom Line: Kids will love this amusing story of a clever groundhog. Ebbeler's charming and colorful illustrations are full of details making it perfect for story hour. Additionally, the last page in this picture book explains the history of April Fools' Day. This is an engaging and fun read for kids in grades K - 2.

Details: April Fool, Phyllis! written by Susanna Leonard Hill & illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Hardcover picture book published by Holiday House in 2011. 28 p. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2270-8

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review: 'The Great Easter Egg Hunt' by Michael Garland.

✰✰✰½ On Easter morning a young boy receives a mysterious invitation from his Aunt Jeanne. As instructed through notes, Tommy races to follow a bunny in a pink vest. Tommy is magically transported to a town where it is Easter all the time. The lucky little boy follows the clues to visit the Easter egg factory, buildings made of chocolate, the Jelly Bean Machine, and an Easter-basket assembly line. His adventure is full of holiday surprises, but the best one is waiting for him at the end. You, too, are invited to explore this magical land filled with chocolate bunnies, decorated eggs, little lambs, and fluffy chicks to count.

The Bottom Line: This brightly illustrated picture book challenges young readers to search for holiday related objects. Also, readers can search for letters that spell out a special holiday messages. Plus, readers learn to follow directions through a variety of puzzles. Recommended holiday reading for kids ages 3 through 8.

Details: The Great Easter Egg Hunt (A Look Again Book) written & illustrated by Michael Garland. Hardcover picture book published by Dutton Children's Books in 2005. 32 p. ISBN: 0-525-47357-2

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: 'St. Patrick's Day' by Anne Rockwell

✰✰✰ On St. Patrick's Day all the children in Mrs. Madoff's class wear something green. They learn about why there are no snakes in Ireland and how to dance a jig. Together they learn about shamrocks and the life story of St. Patrick. It's a busy, fun-filled day as the children learn why so many people celebrate St. Patrick's Day whether they are Irish or not. 

The Bottom Line: This picture book is a pleasant introduction to the activities involved in celebrating St. Patrick's Day. It is a good choice for classroom storytime for kids in grades K - 2. If you enjoy this one, check out the other books in the series. 

Details: St. Patrick's Day written by Anne Rockwell & pictures by Lizzy Rockwell. Hardcover picture book published by Harper in 2010. Unpaged. ISBN: 978-0-06-050198-3 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: 'Have a Little Faith' by Mitch Albom

✰✰✰✰✰ First there was a question: "Will you do my eulogy?" Then there was another question: "Will you save me, Jesus?" These two very different questions were asked by two very different men. One man was Jewish, and the other was Christian. One was white; the other was black. One was a rabbi; the other was a pastor. Both men dedicated their lives to helping others; yet, each came to the job via very different journeys. What could these two men possibly have in common?

Author Mitch Albom explores faith in his first nonfiction book since Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson. This is a story about how two very different men changed the world for the better. This is a story about faith and hope. It is a story about how we are all more alike than different, and how we can find these common bonds if we give each other a chance.

The Bottom Line: Albom is the type of author who writes when something moves him rather than writing on a schedule. He waits until just the right story comes along. In this small, but powerful book, Albom alternates between the life stories of two men. By illustrating the differences, Albom highlights the similarities of these two clerics. Along the way, Albom finds he is on his own journey, a journey of faith and discovery. This is a journey that anyone of any faith or culture, in any country can take. Highly recommended reading for everyone. This is for anyone with an open mind who is interested in learning about other religions and exploring faith. This gentle book will make you think differently about yourself and others.

Book Club Notes: This was easily one of our favorite books. With an average rating of 4.5 stars, book club members were eager to share their views and ask questions. The discussion was lively and the hour passed much too quickly. This was a fantastic book to introduce different religions. Through comparing and contrasting the two clerics, we learned a lot about faith in general. Highly recommended for book clubs interested in exploring religion, faith, and inspiration. Visit Mitch Albom's website for the Reading Guide with Questions.

Details: Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom. Paperback edition published by Hachette Books in 2014. 260 p. ISBN: 978-1-4013-1046-2

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book Review: 'Happy Valentine's Day, Dolores' by Barbara Samuels

✰✰✰½ Dolores and her big sister, Faye, get along swell...most of the time. However, after Dolores sneaks into Faye's room one too many times, they have an argument. Dolores agrees to stay out of her sister's room, but when she spies Faye with a small box, curiosity gets the better of her. After all, one small peek won't hurt, will it?

Inside the box Dolores discovers an adorable Valentine's Day present. She simply must try it on, and Faye will be none the wiser. Dolores almost gets away with it until the present goes missing. Whatever will Dolores do? Valentine's Day just around the corner. With her cat, Duncan, and a little bit of luck, Dolores still has time to make it the best Valentine's Day ever.

The Bottom Line: This charming tale of sibling rivalry makes this holiday book special. Perfect for storytime or bedtime, kids will identify with both the big sister and the little sister. Humorous illustrations complement the story. This installment of Dolores and Duncan is fun reading for kids in grades K - 3.

Details: Happy Valentine's Day, Dolores by Barbara Samuels. Hardcover picture book published by Melanie Kroupa Books in 2006. 32 p. ISBN: 9780374328443