Book review: Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter, by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Monica Carretero

Isern, Susanna. Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter. Illustrated by Monica Carretero. NubeOCHO, 2018. 97 pages. ISBN 978-84-17123-07-9. Ages 6-10. P8 Q9

We all have emotions, but how do we explain those emotions to children so they can fully understand and learn to identify them? Inspector Croc is a specialist on emotions who teaches children how to identify, measure and manage emotions. The book consists of 10 short stories or cases with a section that analyzes each story. The emotion-o-meter, with the 3 levels of intensity for each emotion is very helpful. Emotions include joy, sadness, anger, fear, envy, jealousy, surprise, shame, disgust, and love. Included are recipes for dealing with each emotion. Illustrations include animals and creatures from the short stories. This is not a book that young children will read, but a book for adults to read with children. Great for exploring emotions in a fun and non-threatening way. Explains each emotion, low/medium/high intensity and what each level feels and looks like. Emotions are explained in detail, including what they look like and feel like. The book was originally written in Spanish with the title El Emocionometro del Inspector Drilo.

Verdict: With the explanation of all the emotions, the intensity levels, and the emotion-o-meter, this book is a useful tool to help children learn about their emotions. The back cover of the book has an emotion-o-meter that children can use to identify their level of intensity of each of the emotions. I highly recommend this book for elementary age children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: I Just Ate My Friend, by Heidi McKinnon

McKinnon, Heidi. I Just Ate My Friend. Simon & Schuster, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781534410329. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P6 Q6

It is hard to find a friend, especially when just you ate your friend! A yellow colored creature ate his friend and he is searching for a new friend. All the creatures have a reason why they do not want to be the creature’s friend. His facial features show he is sad when he realizes that he may not find a friend. At the end of the book, a green creature wants to be his friend. The last page shows his green friend, with the words, “I just ate my friend.” The illustrations show starry black skies with each new creature who are potential friends. The concept of eating your friend can be a scary one for kids. How do you explain to kids that a creature eats another one? Why would you want to be friends with a creature who eats its friends? It’s not inclusive when the creatures keep telling the yellow creature that they do not want to be its friends.

Verdict: The book is supposed to be comical, but I do not think it is funny to eat your friend. I also don’t think it is nice to tell friends that they will not be your friend. I think the book is pointless and doesn’t have a message that promotes friendship.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Mixed: a Colorful Story, by Arree Chung

Chung, Arree. Mixed: A Colorful Story. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. $17.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9781250142733. Ages 4-8. P8 Q9

When we think we are the best, we miss out on relationships and what others can add to our lives. Reds are the loudest, Yellows are the brightest, and Blues are the coolest. They all live in color harmony until each color thinks they are the best. They decide to live in separate parts of the city. When Yellow and Blue sit on bench, they realize that each other’s company brings them comfort. They become inseparable, but not all the colors are happy about it. Together they create a new color named Green. The other colors are fascinated and begin mixing as well. Colorful bright dot characters help children visualize why it is important to include others who are not the same as them. The illustrations and bright dots  add a lot to the story. An additional benefit of the story is the way the colors mix. It is a simple lesson in mixing colors and what new colors can be created.

Verdict: The dots show why it is important to accept all their friends, emphasizing unity, diversity and harmony. I highly recommend this book for libraries with elementary aged children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: When the Snow Falls, by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Jana Christy

Sweeney, Linda Booth. When the Snow Falls. Illustrated by Jana Christy. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017. $16.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9780399547201. Ages 3-5. P8Q8.

Told with lively, rhyming two word sentences, this book takes us through an adventure on a snow day. The glowing, rich colors against cool snowy backgrounds depict the city, the country, and a warm cozy house. I really liked how the author and illustrator made me really feel the fun of this kind of winter day spent with family and friends. The artwork is done with pencil, mixed media and digital enhancement.

VERDICT: This is another book that will please parents and children who are getting ready for winter.

October 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Waiting for Snow, by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Renata Liwska

Arnold, Marsha Diane. Waiting for Snow. Illustrated by Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $14.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9780544416871. Ages 4-6. P7Q8

In this sweet story, Badger is impatient for the snow to come. Hedgehog keeps trying to convince him that the snow will come when it’s time, but impatient Badger and his friends try everything they can think of to make the snow come- banging pots and pans to wake up the sky, throwing rocks to punch holes in the clouds, doing a snow dance… But nothing works, except waiting until it is time for the snow. The digitally colored illustrations are soft and cozy, and have a vintage feeling to them.

VERDICT: I liked the theme of patience in this book, and that you can’t rush nature. This will be a popular book with parents of young children who like to see the snow when it finally comes.

October 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Winter Dance, by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Jones

Bauer, Marion Dane. Winter Dance. Illustrated by Richard Jones. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $16.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9780544313347. Ages 4-7. P7Q8.

As the snow begins to fall, Fox wonders what to do. A succession of forest animals (a turtle, bat, bear, squirrel, etc.) offer advice to Fox, but nothing is suitable until another fox comes along. Then we learn that what foxes do in the winter- dance! The artwork is quiet, textured and soft, and the muted palate contrasts the cold winter environment with the rich, warm red of the foxes’ fur.

VERDICT: This is a nice book to use when talking with children about how various animals survive cold winters, and would also make a nice bedtime story during the winter months.

October 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Betty’s Burgled Bakery: An Alliteration Adventure, by Travis Nichols

Nichols, Travis. Betty’s Burgled Bakery: An Alliteration Adventure. Chronicle Books, 2017. $14.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9781452131832. Ages 4-8. P7Q8

Hilarious! The bakery has been robbed of all its tasty treats, and the Gumshoe Zoo detectives are called in to solve the case. The story is told in a comic book style, and we follow the detectives through their investigation. The dialogue is full of great vocabulary and lots of alliteration, and various parts will twist your tongue if you read this out loud. For example- “gluttonous gobbler of gluten-y goods.” The mystery is solved- it’s a case of sleep eating! The illustrations are blocky, colorful and fun. Toward the end, we have a definition of alliteration, and a page that describes some hungry animals (this part didn’t quite seem necessary to me).

VERDICT: This book will be very entertaining to kids who are learning to play with language. I think it might work well in writing classes with kids older than 8 as a fun prompt.

October 2018 review by Carol Schramm.