Book review: The Lost Cousins, by B.B. Cronin

Cronin, B.B. The Lost Cousins. (“A Seek and Find Book”). Viking Books for Young Readers, 2019. $19.99. ISBN 9780451479082. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P7Q7

Grandad, Esmé, and Tate are on a grand adventure to find the long lost cousins Yuki, Jada, Awan, and Luis. They take planes, trains, boats, and even a camel on their journey. Every few spreads, the reader is asked to find one of the lost cousins- the very bright pastel colors in the illustrations are exciting, and there are lots of small details to look at. As the family locates the missing members, they join in the quest. After everyone is found, they have to backtrack because they have lost many of their belongings, so again, the reader has a chance to look closely and find the objects. Some children may find the search for the cousins frustrating since we don’t know what they look like (there is a tiny illustration early on but it’s barely visible), so they may have to flip back and forth to get an idea. This isn’t a problem with the search for the missing objects, since there is a page that shows what to look for. Despite this minor problem, kids will have a lot of fun with this book.

VERDICT: This is a good choice for public libraries- search and find books are always popular with kids and parents too.

February 2020 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Grown-Ups Never Do That, by Davide Cali, illustrated by Benjamin Chaud

Cali, Davide. Grown-ups Never Do That. Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle Books, 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9781452131696. Unpaged. Ages 5-8. P9Q8

I loved this very funny book about all the things that kids get in trouble for doing- and adults are guilty of doing them too! Each page shows us things that adults never do, like being selfish, saying bad words, speaking with their mouths full, littering, etc. The illustrations are really elaborate and capture a lot of emotion and humor. Kids will enjoy looking for small details (like the man who is wasting time on his phone, ignoring the burning pot on the stove behind him).

VERDICT: I think this book could present a good opportunity for parents and children to talk about why some behaviors aren’t desirable, but that none of us is perfect, and we should all try to become better people. Even without this message, children will find this book a lot of fun.

February 2020 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat, by Anne Renaud, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic

Renaud, Anne. The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle: The Cool Science Behind Frank Epperson’s Famous Frozen Treat. Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic. Kids Can Press, 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9781525300288. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Have you ever wondered how the popsicle was invented? Frank was always interested in inventing. He pondered questions, tinkered, tested, analyzed and scrutinized. At age 10 he masterminded his first invention, a handcar with two handles He loved experimenting with flavored soda waters. In 1905, when he was 11, he put his glass of soda water on the back porch and woke up with it frozen! This was before 1940 when the freezer became popular in North America. When Frank was unsuccessful with an invention, he kept trying. Science experiments are sprinkled throughout the book relating to the story. When talking about the freezer box, the experiment is how to make a frozen treat in 5 min. The backmatter contains the Author’s note which is a biography of Frank’s life, which include photos from 1907 of Frank’s family, Frank selling popsicles, and vintage popsicle advertisements. Having  9 children, he wanted to make extra money for his growing family. In 1924 he applied for patents for his “frozen confectionery” and his “confectionery-making apparatus.” In his lifetime, he invented many things, he even designed and built two of his homes, both of which were inspired by castles. The illustrations bring the reader back to the early 1900’s and show Frank’s imagination.

Verdict: This book stands apart from other biographies in that it includes science facts and experiments. Children will be inspired by Frank’s story and want to do the experiments, which are quick, easy and require common items that most households have. This story could be a catalyst for children to create their own invention. I highly recommend this book.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Penny and Penelope, by Dan Richards, illustrated by Claire Almon

Richards, Dan. Penny and Penelope. Illustrated by Claire Almon. Imprint, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781250156075. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Two girls have a playdate. Both children have a Penny doll. One of the Penny dolls is a secret agent who is looking for danger, the other is Penelope, a princess. One has a pony, the other has a turbocharged racing bike. They go on an adventure to capture werewolves; however, the adventure does not end as one would expect. At the end of the book enters Cyborg Penelope! Action packed illustrations keep the reader engaged. If one is an emergent reader, they would be able to follow the story by looking at the action-packed illustrations. The end pages show the Penelope doll as a cyborg, punk rocker, firefighter, secret agent, and fairy. The characters are racially diverse, showing inclusion. The text changes colors for the different dolls so the reader can keep track of which doll is speaking.

Verdict: With the theme of being true to oneself, being open minded and learning from others, this adventure will appeal to readers. By using dolls to express different strengths, the dolls become the main characters in the story instead of the two friends. I think children will be able to relate to the dolls. Since the Penny doll can be anything it wants, it encourages girls not to have to fit within any stereo type. It also shows that princesses can be smart and clever. That being said, playing with dolls can be a stereotype in and of itself. This would make a good book to read to a child to celebrate differences. I do not think it would be a good read aloud since the characters interact in such a way that one listening may be confused as to who is talking.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Luckiest Snowball, by Elliot Kreloff

Kreloff, Elliot. The Luckiest Snowball. Holiday House, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9780823441051. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P8 Q8

When we think of snowballs, we think of winter. But what if a snowball can experience all the seasons? Izzy makes a snowball but when he starts to throw it, the snowball shouts “stop!” The snowball wants to do something with Izzy. Izzy decides to bring the snowball, whom Izzy names Larry, home. Larry lives in the freezer and comes out to play during all four seasons. While in the freezer, Larry makes friends with the frozen items, which rotate according to the seasons. Larry has expressive facial features and is a fun character. The back matter provides facts about each season, explores the three stages of water. There are discussion questions to ask children about the story. The illustrations are digitally produced collage. The cover has raised glitter illustrations. Since one usually thinks of snow as only pertaining to winter, this book explores the option of the freezer to preserve the snowball.

Verdict: This charming story of friendship and seasons would make a great read-aloud. Children will be engaged, entertained and learn at the same time. I especially liked that the items in the freezer changed with each season. I highly recommend this book.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Grow Kind, by John Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser, illustrated by Christopher Lyles

Lasser, Jon and Sage Foster-Lasser. Grow Kind. Illustrated by Christopher Lyles. Magination Press, 2020. $16.99. ISBN 9781433830501. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P6 Q7

How does one grow kind? Kiko starts by asking, “who helps you up in the morning?” By asking questions, the author invites the reader into the story. Kiko sees many fruits and vegetables. She is so excited! She wants to show her sister the garden, but instead she allows her sister to sleep a little longer. When her sister, Annie wakes up, Kiko shows her the garden. Kiko and her sister share their garden’s produce with people in their neighborhood. The story ends with Kiko asking what the reader does to grow kind. Illustrations show children of color, a same-sex brown skinned couple, a white woman who appears to be homeless, and other people in the neighborhood. Kiko and her sister present Asian and the parents present white, implying interracial adoption. Colorful collage-like illustrations show the girls gathering and handing out produce. End matter contains Notes to Parents and other caregivers on how to identify kindness when you see it, how kindness makes others feel, engaging in play that teaches kindness, and the importance of self-compassion.

This is the third book in the series. First one was Grow Grateful and Grow Happy.

Verdict: With the theme of positivity, empathy, kindness, sharing, this book shows diversity and acceptance among neighbors. I can see adults using this book to emphasize kindness and giving to others. While it has a good message, it may not be a book the children will want to read over and over.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Perfect, by Max Amato

Amato, Max. Perfect. Scholastic Press, 2019. $16.99. ISBN 9780545829311. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

From the cover, it appears that pencil and eraser are friends. With the title “Perfect” I guessed that the book would be about not needing to be perfect. Pink eraser likes the page perfectly clean, no squiggles or smudges. However, pencil is playing around and writing on the pages. When eraser decides to erase the pencil marks, large pencils charge towards the eraser. Faces on the tall pencils range from angry to smiling, menacing, and straight faced. The pencils are very large chasing the small eraser. The eraser heads to a forest, which the pencil has drawn. The forest is a whole page of pencil markings. The eraser is frustrated with the inability to fix the page. Eraser gets creative and starts erasing patterns in the pencil markings. Eraser is proud and declares, “no pencil can mess with me.” However, the eraser realizes that it is lonely. Eraser calls out and pencil comes back. The illustrations are a pencil with a face drawn on it, an eraser that has an eraser for a body with the legs and arms are drawn on the page.

Verdict: Children can relate to wanting things their way. They do not want their things to be messed with. While it seems perfect to have everything go your way, it can be very lonely. This is a fun way to show children they can be creative and think outside the box when things do not go as planned.

December 2019 review by Tami Harris.