Book review: Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name, by Marisa Polansky, pictures by Joey Chou

Polansky, Marisa. Hello, My Name Is…: How Adorabilis Got His Name. Pictures by Joey Chou. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780374305062. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8

In Hello, My Name Is… we follow a cute pink creature as it searches for its name. Along the way, we meet several sea creatures and learn their common names and why they have them. After exploring the pink creature’s many attributes, we learn that it is Adorabilis, a type of flapjack octopus discovered in 2015 by researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The animals and scenery in the book are depicted with prominent angles, bright colors, and plenty of contrast. A picture of the actual adorabilis, a brief description of taxonomy, and the history of Opisthoteuthis adorabilis’ discovery and naming are included after the story.

Verdict: This is an informative story about how organisms’ names often reflect their physical attributes or behavior. It would be a great addition to a lesson on sea life; but make sure students realize that some of the creatures in the story live in vastly different environments and would never encounter each other in the wild.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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Book review: Lucy and the Dragonfly., by Lucie Papineau, illustrated by Caroline Hamel

Papineau, Lucie. Lucy and the Dragonfly. Illustrated by Caroline Hamel. Auzou, $16.95. ISBN 9782733856208. 33 pages. Ages 3-6. P6 Q5.

Lucy and the Dragonfly is a story about a young girl who enjoys the nature playing outside. One day, drought and disease caused by climate change has killed the grass and dried the creek. The dragonfly she often plays with is so affected by the little girl’s misery that it takes it upon itself to find a solution for her plight. There are several issues with this book, both physical and plot-related. Lucy is white, lives in a house in temperate climate, and wears a tutu; yet, the dragonfly employs a boy living in an island village near the equator who needs to travel to the next village to use a phone. Of the two, who is going to experience the negative effects of climate change more dramatically? The story would have been exponentially more successful had Lucy initiated a global movement to help the boy and his village. The book has interesting and colorful illustrations; but the page numbering is a bit off or it is missing pages at the beginning.

Verdict: I would not recommend this book, its messaging about climate change erroneously suggests that third-world countries have the responsibility to change their behavior before developed nations. The construction is poor, as well.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Animal City, by Joan Negrescolor

Negrescolor, Joan. Animal City. Chronicle Books, 2018. $18.99. ISBN 9781452170299. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8

Animal City is an illustration-driven book with bold colors and geometric shapes on white pages. Nina visits her special place, an old city that has been taken back by the jungle and its animals, where she reads stories to the flamingos, monkeys, snakes, and jaguars—all living together peacefully. The concept of human cities slowly returning to the natural world is spooky and causes the reader to imagine what drove the humans from their home in the first place. The book delivers the impetus for a grander story despite its minimal text.

Verdict: Animal City’s wonderful illustrations are accompanied by minimal text and may spark many writing prompts for young creative writers or storytellers. I recommend it for school and public libraries.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Stegothesaurus, by Bridget Heos, illustrated by T.L. McBeth

Heos, Bridget. Stegothesaurus. Illustrated by T.L. McBeth. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781250134882. Unp. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

This story is about three dinosaur brothers, two stegosaurus and one stegoTHEsaurus. For every adjective his brothers use to describe their surroundings, the stegothesaurus uses at least three; because why describe shrubs as “yummy,” when you can call them “Savory, succulent, scrumptious?” One day, when the brothers encounter another wordy dinosaur, the Stegothesaurus learns to trust his instincts! It’s a quick, amusing read that encourages readers to express themselves in new ways.

Verdict: This is a nice addition to a language arts lesson on synonyms, alliteration, or the introduction of writing tools like the thesaurus. Plus, there are dinosaurs! It has a place in classroom and public libraries.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: The Little Red Wolf, by Amelie Flechais, translated by Jeremy Melloul

Flechais, Amelie. The Little Red Wolf. Translated by Jeremy Melloul. Cubhouse, 2017. $19.99. ISBN 9781941302453. Unp. Ages 5-8.  P7 Q8

“Freely inspired” by Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, The Little Red Wolf takes its dark source material to the next level. It is beautifully designed with complex, full-color woodland scenes and ominous, murky depictions of humanity. A young wolf in a red cape takes the place of Little Red and his mother tells him to be wary of two humans, a hunter and his daughter. After the little wolf wanders from the wooded path on the way to his grandmother’s, we learn that perspective and memory can blur the line between victim and villain. Originally published in 2014 under the title, Le petit loup rouge.

Verdict: This story has some heavy content. I wouldn’t recommend it for reading aloud in a classroom because children have different thresholds for fear. I would recommend it to public and school libraries.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

 

Book review: Ta-Da!, by Kathy Ellen Davis, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Davis, Kathy Ellen. Ta-Da! Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781452145136. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P9Q9

This creative story uses repeating phrases to convey conflict – Dun Dun Duh! and resolution – Ta-Da! Two children go back and forth changing the direction of the story; taking it from a crystal castle, to a pirate ship, to an island vacation… wherever their imaginations take them. Along the way they encounter dragons, pirates, and magicians. The vivid illustrations are bold and provide lots of interesting details. In the end, the  little girl and little boy work to use their magical powers together to create the perfect story.

Verdict: This is a great book for both school and home. Children can see the power of using imagination come to life in this book. I also see this as a great book for young siblings dealing with conflict resolution.

August 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back?, by Jory John, illustrated by Liz Climo

John, Jory. Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? Illustrated by Liz Climo. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780735228542. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P6Q6

Have you ever had an itch you just can’t reach? Then you will appreciate elephant’s predicament in this book. However, page after page, elephant is unsuccessful in finding help. Elephant seeks the help of many animals: turtle, crocodile, hippo, sloth, and they are all adorable, very colorful against the white page backdrop.  However, as cute as they are,  they are not too helpful. In the end elephant does find a solution using a porcupine. Elephant’s appreciation, or lack of, leaves porcupine in the same predicament.

Verdict: for the right audience this book can be funny. While not a good example of helping others and kindness, it can be used as teaching moment as to what could be done differently.

August 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.