New Picture Book Reviews by Mom and 3 Kids
I’m been asking for and getting a small pile of books these days and haven’t been posting on them. I was at a loss about how to present them … individual book reviews? But there are lots of bloggers who do that. Do your readers really need or want more? I had been putting them on [wacky] themed lists but not all the books fit on an existing list and creating a new list per book is crazy time-consuming. But I like the idea of putting a new book in the context of other well-known and really great books. A review by itself is difficult to decipher into “my kid likes X so he or she will love Y.” Sorry, no more math.
So, guess what I did? OK, nothing. Yep, nothing for a long time except read the books with my kids and enjoy them and try not to lose them in the black hole of our book piles. This is not a way to endear oneself to book publishers!
Sometime in the middle of the night, I got the [random] idea of a short stack of books. Like, it could be any amount from 3 to 10, like a stack of pancakes. I decided to rank the books in the order that we liked them. Let me know what you think. Maybe this is a new feature post that I’ll continue to do with all the new books I read and get. Thanks for your feedback!
And, because I anal-retentively organized every picture, chapter and YA book that I own (and labeled them, and purged them) and still am STILL busting at the seams with books, I am giving away the books that my kids allow me to. These are the picture book giveaways:
Please leave me a comment on what book you want and why and the book will go to the person with the most compelling note.
10. Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
This picture book has stunning graphics and very simple text. Unfortunately, the man on the bike is so stretched out with particularly rubber band-y arms and legs that it totally freaked my kids out which is a shame because visually, this book is arresting! If the bicycle guy wasn’t so distorted, I think my kids would have really enjoyed this book. Maybe your kids are less squeamish?! I’M GIVING THIS BOOK AWAY. [picture book, ages 2-7]
9. Mr. Biggs in the City by Kevin Bloomfield
Mr. Biggs is a Sasquatch (you know, Big Foot!) and he explores the city to great comedy. My son really enjoyed this book and I loved the fact that it’s bi-lingual in Spanish (we are all studying Spanish!). My son won’t let me read the Spanish part though I try to be sneaky and read it “accidentally”! THIS BOOK IS UP FOR GRABS. [picture book, ages 4-9]
8. Deep in the Desert by Rhonda Lucas Donald, illustrated by Sherry Neidigh
Set to nursery rhyme songs like Do Your Ears Hang Low and Baa Baa Black Sheep, the words are transformed to songs about desert creatures. It’s a delightful way to combine non-fiction with singing. My husband and I sang these repeatedly at our little boy’s insistence. It turns out that I’m the only one that knows the tune to Do Your Ears Hang Low … guess all those mommy and me music classes really sank in! In this case, though, I’m singing about the Fennec Fox! This is a diabolically clever concept! I love it! [picture song book, ages 4-9]
7. Look Alikes: Seek-and-Search Puzzles by Joan Steiner
If you read People magazine (shh! secret indulgence), you might have seen the two photo puzzle that has slight differences that are really hard to catch. Well… if you like that kind of puzzle, this entire book has these see-and- find-the-difference puzzles. Author Joan Steiner (who passed away from cancer last year) painstakingly made mini dioramas out of ordinary objects and the fun is in spotting them and it’s harder than you’d think. My son loves this kind of search and find books and we’ve been having fun reading and searching. [search and find picture book, ages 4-adult]
6. Astro the Stellar Sea Lion by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Shennen Bersani
I must have been reading Dude and Betty in the same bedtime story sitting because I thought that Astro was a steller sea lion, not a Steller Sea Lion, i.e. the actual name of his species. Astro is a stellar beast so I suppose he’s aptly named. He’s also one hard sea lion to return to sea. This is a true story of a rescue baby sea lion and what happened to him. The good news: he lives at the Marine Mammal Center in Mystic Connecticut which is just a few hours from where we live. We can visit him! [non-fiction picture book, ages 5-10]
5. Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min
My son loves this book even though he’s never had Indian food ever and he has no idea what a roti is. It’s a Popeye-esque East Asian story set in a modern family that is heartwarming and fun. No stereotypes here, when no one in Aneel, the little boy’s family, has time to make roti for Dada-ji (the grandfather), he whips up a perfect batch all by himself! I really like the multi-generational story of a family who gets along … maybe this makes it a folk tale?! I jest. [picture book, ages 4-9]
4. Jay and Ben by Lulu Delacre and Katharine Swawson, illustrated by Lulu Delacre
This is an interesting and groundbreaking special needs picture book that helps special needs children, particularly those with autism, learn about the sequencing of events and reading by using symbol pictures wrapped in the guise of a picture book. There are numbered pictures on each page with one single sentence. You can cut out symbols for each word and use tape to velcro to match the symbol to each word. The numbered pictures show a sequence of events. He can spread jam on toast by himself. Picture 1: boy with jam. Picture 2: Boy opening jam jar. Picture 3: Boy taking the lid off. Picture 4: Boy with jam on a butter knife. Picture 5: Boy’s hand spreading jam on toast. Picture 5: Toast covered with jam. Picture 6: Boy enjoying jam on toast.
The entire book is the day in the life of Jay, who often likes to be by himself. To see more about this book, click here. I WILL BE GIVING THIS BOOK AWAY. [picture book for special needs children learning to read, ages not exactly sure]
3. Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall
This is the perfect Halloween book if you are inclined to give grandkids or children gifts on non-gift holidays. Slightly spooky but not scary, this is a warning tale to bad little boys and girls of what might happen if you don’t behave! My six-year-0ld son delights in the poems about naughty children the Substitute Teacher/Creacher balefully warns the children about. He wasn’t scared a bit! [picture book, ages 4-9]
This book reminds me of some of my favorite funny barnyard picture books: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon, Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin, and Arnold Lobel’s Small Pig. It’s farm animals against farmers with the farm animals winning the day and their right to do as they please. For hogs and small pigs, it’s to stay dirty. Small boys like mine would completely agree with the animals! This is a very well done classic-in-the-making picture book told in rhyme and beautifully illustrated in watercolor! [picture book, ages 4-9]
1. Dude: Fun with Dude and Betty by Lisa Pliscou, illustrated by Tom Dunne
My son didn’t agree with how much fun this book is so I told him, “You’re harshing on my mellow, dude!” It might be the Southern California girl in me, but I LOVE this book. It takes old school Dick and Jane and spins in on its ear with Dude and Betty, surf dude and surf bunny respectively. It’s a righteous, bodacious picture book that I think his older sisters will be stoked about because they love to catch gnarly waves. (It’s actually true, my middle one especially has caught the surfing bug. Too bad we live on the East Coast!) [stylin’ picture book, ages 5-10]
To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
Congrats to Natalie. She won Jay and Ben! Congrats to Lisa who won Along a Long Road and Mr. Biggs in the City.
To examine any of the items listed, please click on image of item. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.