Book review: In-Between Things, by Priscilla Tey

Tey, Priscilla. In-Between Things. CandIewick Press, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9780763689834. Ages 3-6. P7Q8

A scruffy gray cat, a lean hound dog, and a trio of white mice introduce children to the concept of neither here, nor there, but in-between.  Cheerful mixed media illustrations with points of bright orange, lemon yellow, and spring green pair with humorous verse descriptions of things in-between–chairs in a room, things under the floor, animals that are not one thing or another, but a combination of both.

Verdict: This cheerful concept book is the first picture book by illustrator/teacher, Priscilla Tey. The illustrations remind me of works by Stephen Gammell such as Song and Dance Man (Karen Ackerman), or The Relatives Came (by Cynthia Rylant).  I will keep an eye out for other works by this author/illustrator.  Highly recommended for kindergarten through elementary and public library collections.

November 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

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Book review: Hello, Horse, by Vivian French, illustrated by Catherine Rayner

French, Vivian. Hello, Horse. Illustrated by Catherine Rayner. Candlewick Press, 2018. Unpaged. 15.99. ISBN 9781536201673. Ages 4-7. P7Q8

 A small boy, nervous around horses, visits a friend’s farm. As he meets and helps the farmer take care of her horse, the boy overcomes his fear and becomes friends with the horse.  Pleasant, realistic watercolor pictures bring this quiet story to life.  Based on the author’s real-life horse.

Verdict: This quiet, rustic book is a good introduction to horses for young children.  It has a definite feel of the English countryside and may look a bit unusual for children accustomed to Western riding styles and tack. Recommended for kindergarten and elementary schools as well as for public library collections.

November 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: A First Book of the Sea, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Davies, Nicola. A First Book of the Sea. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2018. $22.00. ISBN 9780763698829. 107 pgs. Ages 3-7. P8Q8

This is a wonderful book about the sea for young readers. It covers many sea related topics, which are broken up into four main categories- Down by the Shore, Journeys, Under the Sea, and Wonders. Several spreads deal with the terrible problem of plastic pollution and its effects. Some of the text rhymes and some does not, but all of it is poetic and lovely, and full of good information too. The watercolor artwork is beautiful- there is a lot of contrast, gorgeous color and rich detail. I loved the spread with the various types of ship sails and the border of sailor’s knots, all labeled.

VERDICT: I think all libraries in our area should have this book. Elementary schools will find it useful in the classroom, and parents will love reading it to their young children.

November 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Hare and Tortoise, by Alison Murray

Murray, Alison. Hare and Tortoise. Candlewick Press, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 9780763687212. Unpaged. Ages 2-5. P7Q8

The author/ illustrator used lively digital art to illustrate this adaptation of the traditional Aesop’s fable. I enjoyed the modern style- I could hear a sports commentator as I read about the progress of the race, and I liked the “scientific” illustrations and descriptions of each animal. Small children will find the artwork fun and easy to understand, and will enjoy the occasional rhymes. There isn’t a lot of time spent dealing with the moral of the story, but Tortoise is a good winner and invites Hare to join him in the lettuce patch at the end.

VERDICT: This is a solid, engaging book that will be a popular choice in the children’s room at my library.

September 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Kensky, Jessica and Patrick Downes. Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship. Illustrated by Scott Magoon. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780763696047. Unpaged. Ages 5-9. P8 Q8

We all have an idea of what our life will be like, but what happens when things don’t work out the way we want them to? Rescue came from a long line of dogs who were seeing eye dogs. His trainer felt he would be best as a service dog who works beside their partner instead of in front of them. Jessica had to have her leg amputated and needs a service dog.  Jessica is introduced to Rescue and they learn to work together. When she had to have her other leg amputated, they had to learn to work together all over again. In the end, they rescued each other.

This story was based on a real-life friendship. Jessica was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and eventually became a double amputee. She received a black Labrador named Rescue to help her. Though Jessica met Rescue when she was an adult, much of the story is true. The last page contains an author’s note which explains the history behind the story and information about NEADS, a wide spectrum of assistance dog services.

The illustrations start out dark and dreary and as Jessica heals and starts working with Rescue, the illustrations become colorful and vibrant. The illustrations show the journey they go on to form a bond and support each other. It was mentioned several times that Jessica and Rescue did not want to let anyone down. We often have the fear that we are not enough or that we will let others down. This book addresses that fear and encourages one to keep going on even if our life looks different from what we thought it would be.

Verdict: Courage, team work, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles are main themes in the story. Jessica’s journey of perseverance through difficult circumstances is inspiring and at the same time, it shows the value of service dogs. I recommend this book for elementary school age libraries.

May 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Saturday Is Swimming Day, by Hyewon Yum

Yum, Hyewon. Saturday is Swimming Day. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780763691172. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q7.

A small girl is taking swimming lessons. Every Saturday her stomach hurts as she anticipates her lesson. At first, her anxiety prevents her from actually getting in the water. However, she is given the opportunity to slowly gain confidence with her new pastime and the stomachache dissipates. Watery paints add texture to bright pencil illustrations of an inclusive cast of family member and swim students. The story teaches trust and patience to both children and the adults who support them in their new endeavors.

Verdict: Young readers will identify with the main character’s discomfort at trying something new. Adults should take a cue from the unobtrusive adults who encourage her to face her fears. This is a great resource for a child who is starting something new—especially swimming.

September 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Dog on a Digger, by Kate Prendergast

Prendergast, Kate. Dog on a Digger. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781536200416. Unp. Ages 2-7. P8 Q9

Dog on a Digger is a beautifully illustrated, textless story about teamwork and friendship. A dog and its human work on a building site. Their constructive day goes awry after lunch when dog’s young friend goes missing. The story is told through panels of pencil illustration—mostly monochrome—with touches of bright yellow and muted blue. Prendergast is quite skillful at depicting sound and emotion with line and texture.

Verdict: I recommend this book to children who appreciate dogs and/or construction equipment. Its lack of text allows young readers to lend their own words to the story or enjoy the creativity of the pleasing illustrations.

September 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.