Book review: Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest, by Sarah Hampson, illustrated by Kass Reich

Hampson, Sarah. Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest. Illustrated by Kass Reich. Kids Can Press, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9781771383615. Ages 4-8. P7Q6.

Dr. Archibald Coo (pigeon) and his pigeon friends feel unappreciated in the city. They are chased by old ladies with umbrellas, in danger from angry drivers, discouraged with spikes from perching on ledges, etc. They leave the city in protest of this treatment, and won’t return until people learn to appreciate them and their noble history. By the end of the story, an agreement has been reached- the pigeons won’t “splat” on cars and heads anymore, and people will be neighborly. The artwork is nice enough and has a soft quality.

VERDICT: I felt like it took too long to get to the protest aspect of the story, and of course, anyone with experience with pigeons and their “splat” will have mixed feelings about the agreement, in spite of the commendable attitude of cooperation.

June 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: Wolfy by Grégoire Solotareff

Solotareff, Grégoire. Wolfy. Gecko Press, 2018 (first published in French in 1989). Unpaged. $18.22. ISBN 9781776571567. Ages 5-9. P6Q6.

Tom the Rabbit has never seen a Wolf, and Wolfy has never seen a rabbit. After Wolfy’s uncle is killed in an accident, Tom helps Wolfy bury him, and then they become best friends. But when they play the game “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” Tom becomes afraid of Wolfy, who doesn’t understand his fear. Eventually Wolfy gets chased by big wolves who think he’s a rabbit, and then he understands what it’s like to be afraid. The illustrations are bold and colorful, but in places might be frightening for younger children. It feels a bit disjointed in terms of the storyline and emotional impact.

VERDICT: I found this book to be interesting, with a good message in the end, but a bit strange overall- it’s hard to know what the message is.

June 2018 review by Carol Schramm

Book review: It’s Spring!, by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Berger, Samantha, and Pamela Chanko. It’s Spring! Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Cartwheel Books, 2018. $5.99. ISBN 9781338232189. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7Q8

Parents will love this engaging book meant to be read together. Each page tells of the signs of spring and has colorful supporting pictures. The prompts featured in upper corners inspire early scientific thinking!

VERDICT: I loved the rhyming verse and the story of spring; this book will be popular with young ones.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

[Editor’s note: A reissue of the book originally published in 2001.]

Book review: Is Your Mama a Llama?, by Deborah Guarino, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Guarino, Deborah. Is Your Mama a Llama? Illustrated by Steven Kellogg. “A StoryPlay book.” Cartwheel Books, 2018. $5.99. ISBN 9781338232172. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7Q8

I love this adorable story of Lloyd the llama looking for his mama. This version is just the right size for small hands to enjoy. Each page includes questions and text boxes that encourage interaction with the story.

VERDICT: I highly recommend this book for home, preschool and kindergarten settings for its lyrical verse and lively pictures.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

[Editor’s note: This is a new edition of an old favorite, originally published in 1989.  The rhyming text and gentle, humorous illustrations retain their appeal in this new edition.]

Book review: Splashdance, by Liz Starin

Starin, Liz. Splashdance. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9780374300982. Ages 4-7. P9Q8.

I loved this funny book about a polar bear named Ursula, who with her fickle human partner Ricardo, are practicing for the water ballet championship. When the swimming pool unfairly introduces a policy that forbids bears from swimming (they are too hairy), Ursula has to become inventive to continue an activity that makes her happy. The illustrations are hilarious- I especially loved the spread that shows Ricardo and his new partner Hortense (a giraffe) on one side, and poor depressed Ursula lying under a table- and will leave kids laughing out loud. The serious topics of exclusion and loyalty are clear throughout, and will give parents and teachers a lot to talk about with this book.

VERDICT: I highly recommend this funny book for public libraries and elementary schools.

April 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Kindness is Magic, by Dubravka Kolanovic

Kolanovic, Dubravka. Kindness is Magic. QEB Publishing/Quarto Publishing Group, 2017. $19.99. ISBN 9781682973189. Unpaged. Ages 5-7. P7 Q7

Little Owl, who is afraid of heights, falls from a tree. Wolf picks her up and tries to throw her into the air to help fly. When she is unable to fly, Wolf asks her, “What kind of an owl are you?” Wolf tries many different ways to help Little Owl fly, and when she is not successful, she asks herself, “What kind of an owl am I?” Even when Wolf gives up his favorite blue balloon to her help fly, his words still put her down. Wolf realizes his words have not been kind and he tries again to help Little Owl fly, this time using words that are encouraging. Once the wolf realizes the importance of his words and chooses kind words, Little Owl make progress in her flying. The facial expressions on the wolf show concern when he finds Little Owl and irritation when Little Owl is not able to fly. The illustrations are in soft colors. This story shows kindness in many ways and the importance of using kind words. The last page of the book includes a “next steps” section providing adults questions they may ask children to get more out of the book.

Verdict: Children need many reminders to use kind words to go along with their actions. This book would be a good addition to any classroom, public library and individual library for elementary school age children. It is helpful in teaching children patience and kindness in both deed and word.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Gordon: Bark to the Future, by Ashley Spires

Spires, Ashley. Gordon: Bark to the Future. (P.U.R.S.T. Adventure series). Kids Can Press, 2018. $15.99. 72p. ISBN 978-1-77138-409-4. Ages 6-8. P5Q6

With Binky the Space Cat captured, Gordon the pup takes center stage in a time-travel journey to save the house from encroaching aliens. The “bug” in the time machine has changed its setting, and Gordon finds himself five years earlier than expected with no support system.

Verdict: The story has a flat feeling with no dialog and the narration placed between the graphic panels, primarily in sets of three. Only bits of red (the pet’s food bowl), fuchsia, and the green of the aliens relieve the mostly black and brown tones.

March 2018 review by Nel Ward.