Book review: The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling, by Timothy Basil Ering

Ering, Timothy Basil. The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. $15.99. ISBN 9780763664329. Ages 2-5. P9Q9.

This sweet, heartwarming book tells the story of how a newly hatched duckling, with the help of music, finds his way home and helps others to do the same. Alfred Fiddleduckling hatched out of an egg which was kept safely in a violin case during a sea voyage. The boat is destroyed during a terrible storm, but Alfred finds his way home with the help of music. His music also helps Captain Alfred, his lost dog and his gentle wife reunite by the end of the story. The illustrations are wonderful- gorgeous combinations of bold paint, ink and graphite that are full of feeling.

VERDICT: This book is one that every elementary school and public library should have. It will definitely become a favorite with parents and children at my library.

June 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: Baby Goes to Market, by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Atinuke. Baby Goes to Market. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. Candlewick Press, 2017. $22.99. ISBN 9780763695705. Ages 2-4. P7Q9

Baby travels through the busy Nigerian public market on Mama’s back. It begins when the banana seller hands baby six bananas, Baby eats one, and puts five in the basket. Unbeknownst to Mama, as they make their way through the market, Baby gets treated to all the sellers’ wares; the reader is treated to simple math problems and counting. The numbers are accompanied by bright colors, plants, and prints. Baby Goes to Market makes counting enjoyable by connecting friendly illustrations, familiar tasks like shopping, and strong community representation.

Verdict: Baby Goes to Market is a charming counting book that includes applied addition and subtraction to clarify the abstraction of numbers to young readers.

February 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Davies, Nicola. Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. $15.99. ISBN 9780763694838. Ages 5-8. P8Q8

This book is a follow up to Tiny Creatures, The World of Microbes by Davies and Sutton. It is an accessible and engaging beginning science book that talks about the diversity of life on earth in clear, simple language that is appropriate for young readers. The author and artist help readers see the huge variety of creatures, as well as the interdependence between various living things. Other areas of focus are patterns in nature, conservation, and extinction of species. The watercolor illustrations have a folk art feeling to them and are very colorful and fun to look at.

VERDICT: I think this book will be a good addition to the children’s collection at my library, and I expect it to be popular with parents of young children.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: A Christmas for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Becker, Bonny. A Christmas for Bear. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. ISBN 9780763649234. Ages 5-9. P8Q7

I loved this story about Bear, who wants to have a Christmas party but isn’t exactly sure how to go about it, and Mouse, who really wants a Christmas present. Bear is pretty sure that you have to have pickles at Christmas, and long, difficult poems. Mouse scurries around the house looking for his present, which must be hidden somewhere! After Mouse eats some of his pickle, and listens to part of the poem, we discover that there is indeed a present for him. I love the humorous illustrations (in watercolor, gouache, and ink) and the descriptive language, as well as the warm story about friendship.  I will be happy to add this book to our collection of Christmas stories for children.

VERDICT: This book is a good bet for elementary school and public libraries.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: King of the Sky, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin

Davies, Nicola. Illustrated by Laura Carlin. King of the Sky. Candlewick Press, 2017. $17.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9780763695682. Ages 4-7. P7 Q8

Nicola Davies continues her animal focus with King of the Sky. A young boy experiences culture shock after relocating to Britain from Italy. The only constant in his life, he notes, is the presence of pigeons. After befriending an elderly pigeon trainer, the disenchanted boy begins to believe in the impossible and appreciate his life in unexpected ways. King of the Sky is a hopeful story and beautifully illustrated in Laura Carlin’s muted, smudgy style.

Verdict: I would recommend this book for thoughtful children or those who have recently relocated. It belongs in school and public libraries.

November 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Fergus and Zeke, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross

Messner, Kate. Fergus and Zeke.  Illustrated by Heather Ross. Candlewick Press, 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9780763678463. 56 pages. Ages 5-8. P7 Q7

Fergus is the classroom pet who follows all the rules of the class. When the class goes on a field trip, Fergus realizes that he will have to stay at school. He devises a plan to go on the field trip and along his adventure, he meets a new friend, Zeke. Fergus and Zeke has four chapters and includes a table of contents. The illustrations are colorful and action packed and will help keep children’s attention and add to the text. Through the mice’s experience at the museum, children will see how friendships develop. The book is realistic in what the mouse experiences in a regular day at school. This is the first book in a new series. The book is set up for a sequel.

Verdict: I recommend this book for young children’s libraries. It is action packed, realistic, colorful and fun. Children will relate to the book and be interested in finding out what new adventures Fergus and Zeke will have.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Merrow, by Ananda Braxton-Smith

Braxton-Smith, Ananda. Merrow. Candlewick Press, 2016. ISBN 9780763679248. $16.99. 233 pages. Grades 8+. P7 Q9

Merrow isn’t really about mermaids. It’s about Kraken, web-fingered creatures with the tails of fishes, ancient children who left their marks on cave walls, small town gossip, and a world-wise twelve-year-old girl named Neen Marrey. Ananda Braxton-Smith writes with the voice and tragedy of the hardened Irish island folk of whom she writes. To those on the Island, and Need in particular, the sea is a family member. One who is often responsible for life-giving fruits and equally devastating heartbreak. Merrow is not an easy read. It is character driven and there is plenty of quirky Irish and Nordic vocabulary—which only adds to its authenticity. Readers who enjoy Irish writing and folklore with adore this story.

Verdict: This book is highly recommended. The language is often figurative, rife with imagery and cultural references. It belongs in school and public libraries.

September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.