Book reviews: Picture Books reviewed by ECEL (Special Needs) Students

Thanks to the Newport High students in the Education for Community Employment and Life group and library staff for these reviews.

December 2018 Picture Book reviews by ECEL (Special Needs) Students:


Kheiriyeh, Rashin. Saffron Ice Cream. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. $17.60. ISBN 978-1338150520. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 8.

Rashin had to move from Iran to Brooklyn. She had to leave behind friends and everything she knew, including her favorite ice cream. Her family and friends went on a picnic at the beach on Coney Island. She tried a new ice cream and made a new friend.  There was no curtain on the beach in America, so she could swim with her whole family.  I liked this book; it was interesting and believable.  The book talked about different places and the beach/ocean, and had colorful illustrations.  It made us laugh out loud at times.

Taylor, Sean. I Am Actually a Penguin. Illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek. Templar, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1536202786. Unpaged. PK-1 ECEL Popularity: 9. 

A little girl liked to dress up. She got a penguin costume and wore it everywhere.  She believed she was a penguin and when her parents made her take the costume off to go to school she found an alligator costume to wear, instead. This was a very fun book that was easy to read.


Foster, Travis. Take a Hike, Miles and Spike!  Illustrated by Ethan Long. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1452164717. Unpaged. K-3. ECEL popularity: 9.

This book is about 2 friends who are heading somewhere and saying goodbye to all their friends. I really liked this book, it makes fun use of words and has very cute illustrations.

Shories, Pat. Squeak the Mouse Likes his House. Holiday House, 2018 $15.99. ISBN 978-0823439447. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL popularity: 9. 

Squeak the mouse tells us he likes his house and the toys, fresh water, books, and free snacks that are in his house.  The book is very cute, I liked how the book was written from the mouse’s perspective.


Murray, Dianna. One Snowy Day. Illustrated by Diana Toledano. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1492645863. Unpaged. PK-1. ECEL Popularity: 8.

Puppy wakes up and goes through his day, including playing outside with all the kids.  The book counts to 10 and back, so it helps really young kids learn how to count. It’s a cute book that rhymes and is fun to read.

Fergus, Maureen. The Reptile Club. Illustrated by Elina Ellis. Kids Can Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 978-1771386555. Unpaged. PK-2. ECEL Popularity: 10.

Rory started a new school and there were lots of clubs to join. None of the clubs interested Rory, so he decided to start one of his own, called the Reptile Club.  None of the kids wanted to join right away, but 3 reptiles (an alligator, anaconda, and a gecko) came to the meeting.  Once the kids saw the reptiles at the meeting, they all wanted to join them.  This book was really funny and really easy to read, the pictures made us all laugh out loud.


Boldt, Mike. Attack of the 50-Foot Fluffy.  Margaret K. McElderry, 2018. $17.99. ISBN. 978-1481448871. Unpaged. PK-3. ECEL Popularity: 6

This is the story of how different emotions run through us.  Claire’s “bad day” started with not having the “right” breakfast cereal.  Her best friend, Fluffy is a big stuffed rabbit and when Claire is in a bad mood, so is Fluffy.  As the day gets worse, Fluffy starts having a fit, and they both have a hard time getting control of their anger.  Somehow, they do and it all turns out ok.  It’s a little preachy at times, but maybe younger kids will get the message, because it is easy to read and the pictures are great.


Book review: The Snowflake Mistake, by Lou Treleaven and Maddie Frost (illustrator)

Treleaven, Lou. The Snowflake Mistake. Illustrator, Maddie Frost. UK version.  Maverick Arts Publishing, 2016. $19.07. ISBN 9781848862180. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

The Snow Queen puts snowflakes through a machine, squish and crunch, to make perfect identical snowflakes. Young Princess Ellie would much rather play. The Snow Queen has business to do so she has Princess Ellie man the machine. The machine is broken! What can Princess Ellie do bring back the snow? With the help of her bird friends, Princess Ellie finds a solution. In the end, Princess Ellie realizes that when things do not go as planned, one can rely on their own creativity to improve the situation.  Whimsical winter scenes with blues purples and green create a cozy, warm feeling.  The text includes onomatopoeia in bold words adding a sense of action to the story. Includes a pattern on how to make snowflakes.

Verdict: It is okay to make mistakes, in fact, sometimes mistakes can make things better. Embracing creativity and support for thinking outside the box. The story leaves you feeling warm and inspired.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: I Like My Car, by Michael Robertson

Robertson, Michael. I Like My Car. Holiday House Publishing, 2018. $15.99. ISBN 9780823439515. Unpaged. Ages 4-6. P6 Q7

Full of colorful, large illustrations, and repetitious text, “I like my __ car.” Each page shows a whimsical animal in an oversized car. There is a large amount of space around the text so it stands out. Readers can look at the color of the car to help them decode the text if needed. Arrows on signs show the directions the cars are traveling. On the last page, all the cars and animal drivers are included. Glossy pages with many different colors makes reading fun. In the I like to read series.  Guided B reading level, which is K-1. End pages have colorful, cartoon type car related illustrations.

Vedict: For children who are learning to read and who like cars, this book is fun. Since the book is repetitious, adult readers may tire of the book quickly. It is meant for children as they are learning to read.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Mad, Mad Bear!, by Kimberly Gee

Gee, Kimberly. Mad, Mad Bear! Beach Lane Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481449717. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7 Q7

Bear gets mad because he has to leave the park first, then he gets an owie on the way home and has to leave his boots and favorite stick outside. He doesn’t feel it is fair and he gets mad! After he throws a tantrum, he takes a deep breath, has a snack and takes a nap. When Bear wakes up, he feels better. Simple text and large illustrations follow Bear as he goes through the process of getting mad and calming down. Some words are red and large, emphasizing them. Illustrations show Bear’s facial expressions, giving the listener clues to how Bear is feeling. The book is designed to be read to small children.

Verdict: If you have child who gets mad often, this book will provide some simple strategies and show that they can recover from their mad feelings. I recommend this book for small children and public libraries.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: I Just Like You, by Suzanne Bloom

Bloom, Suzanne. I Just Like You. Boyds Mills Press, 2018. $16.95. ISBN 9781629798783. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

Acceptance of one who is different from oneself is important for children to learn. A diverse group of animals show how each animal can be different or the same and still like each other. Simple repetitious text drives the point. Adults can use this book to segway into what ways we are different and what ways we are the same. Illustrations show friendly animals interacting with each other. Children often think their friends have to be just like them. This book shows that they can like others even if they are different.

Verdict: I highly recommend this playful book that models liking each other. I will use this book in my character ed class.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Quiet, by Tomie dePaola

dePaola, Tomie. Quiet. Simon & Schuster, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481477543. Unpaged. Ages 4-6. P5 Q6

In a world where everyone is in a hurry, being still and quiet may be a foreign concept. A grandfather points out to his two grandchildren how everything is in such a hurry; bees, birds, a dog, a dragon fly, and trees waving leaves. He invites them to sit quietly with him on a bench. He points out birds resting in a tree, dog resting, frog sitting, and the dragon fly stopped. The girl observes that she can think when she is quiet, the boy can see when he is still. To be quiet and still is a special thing. The book felt a bit generic, since the characters are referred to as boy, girl, and grandfather. With simple text and large calm colored illustrations, this gentle book showing the importance of being still and quiet. Even though it shows a balance of busy and quiet, it emphasizes that being quiet is more important than being busy. In life, I feel that one needs to have a balance of both and both are equally important.

Verdict: I can see adults reading this book to children to show them the importance of being quiet and still, but I do not see children picking up this book on their own to read. I do not think this is a book that children will want to read over and over.  That being said, I feel this book would be valuable in a public library. An adult could use this book to lead into an activity where children see what they notice when they are quiet.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: School Bus Safety, by Becky Coyle, illustrated by juanbjuan oliver and Elmira Eskandari

Coyle, Becky. School Bus Safety. Illustrated by juanbjuan oliver and Elmira Eskandari. Flowerpot Press, 2018. $12.99. ISBN 9781486714308. Unpaged. Ages 5-8. P5 Q6

The bus can be a busy and loud place. This simple picture book uses rhyming text to teach children traffic safety rules in a fun and engaging way. Rules such as look before you cross, don’t walk toward the bus while it is pulling in, use hand rails, stay in seat while bus is moving, bags at your feet, quiet on the bus, exit one at a time give children specific examples of positive behavior on the bus. Children also are introduced to signs such as wait, stop, walk, don’t walk and go. A female sheriff waving out the window, portraying sheriffs as friendly, is an added bonus. I marked it down on quality because the picture of all the children on the bus has one person blowing a bubble with gum and one child eating an apple. They also show a boy with a paper airplane, which one can imagine may be thrown. These illustrations show unsafe behavior. In our school district, children are not allowed to eat or chew gum on the bus due to choking hazard. Illustrations show faces that are oversized compared to bodies. The word Screech spreads across the entire two pages, showing a car coming close to a child. In the Police in our School series. Includes a website for more information.

Verdict: Adults may use this book to teach children safe bus riding procedures. If this book is used, the reader should point out to children not to eat on the bus. I may use this book in my character ed class, but I will make sure to point out the illustration of the children eating and mention that we don’t eat on our buses. Other than that point, it is a great book, using specific examples to help children stay safe. It is designed to teach children rather than being a fun book that children will choose on their own to read for pleasure.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.