Book review: Animals: An Amazing Atlas of Wildlife, by Nicola Edwards, illustrated by L’Atelier Cartographik

Edwards, Nicola. Animals: An Amazing Atlas of Wildlife. (Hello World series). Illustrated by L’Atelier Cartographik. 60 Degrees/Tiger Tales, 2018. $19.99. ISBN 9781944530174. Unpaged. Ages 5-7. P8Q6

This oversized wildlife atlas is full of bright colors, fascinating information (I learned a lot!), and has an appealing lift-the-flap layout. A wide variety of animals are described for each continent, and an specific area of interest is showcased for each- for example in South America we learn about animals of the Amazon, in Europe, we get information about animals around Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster in 1986, and North America gives us the life cycle of the salmon. The author touches only very briefly on endangered species and habitats in crisis. The tidbits of information are hidden under flaps that must be lifted, the pages are made from heavy board, and the cover is beautiful. Unfortunately, the flaps won’t hold up to heavy wear, but children will enjoy looking behind them. There is also an age mismatch issue- the book is intended for ages 3 and up, but I think the information and vocabulary will be very advanced for such young children, though they will enjoy the pictures and format. In addition, the heavy board pages make it feel like it’s for younger readers.

VERDICT: I think children will find this book fascinating, and it could be used by elementary teachers or home school families while studying world animals and geography. However, I think the lack of information about declining habitats and the effects of climate change is a serious problem for any book about animals published at this time.

December 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: Meet the House Kittens, by John Patrick Green

Green, John Patrick. Meet the House Kittens. (Kitten Construction Company series). First Second, 2018. $17.99. 70p. ISBN 978-1-62672-830-1. Ages 6-10. P9Q9

Frustrated by the city’s refusal to accept her architectural design for the new mayor’s mansion, Marmalade puts together her own crew of builders to build a mansion. The one commissioned by the city is so structurally unsound that it falls in, but unfortunately only the city planner believes that the kittens constructed the mansion while the mayor laughs at the kittens because they are so “adorable.”

Verdict: Initially, the graphic novel seems to lack substance, but it can be an excellent satire on how women are treated if they are considered to be “adorable” instead of competent, giving the book different dimensions from being just “cute” to pointing out that individual abilities are often overlooked because of stereotypes. The simple, colorful artwork makes this an accessible read for younger children.

Fall 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: EngiNerds, by Jarrett Lerner

Lerner, Jarrett. Enginerds. Aladdin, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6872-5. 178 pages. 8-12 P6/Q5

Twelve year old Kennedy and his friends receive mysterious boxes full of metal that assemble themselves into robots. At first the group of friends who call themselves the Enginerds are ecstatic. Robots to help them do chores seems like a dream come true. Unfortunately for them the robots have other plans in mind and now it is up to the group of friends to defeat the robots.

Verdict: Enginerds looked like an interesting book but in the end I was disappointed. The characters were not engaging and the story seemed disjointed. There were some enjoyable parts but overall I’m not overly excited by Enginerds.

November 2018 review by Michelle Cottrell.

Book review: The Case from Outer Space, by James Preller, illustrated by R.W. Alley

Preller, James. The Case From Outer Space. (A Jigsaw Jones Mystery). Illustrated by R. W. Alley. Fiewel and Friends, 2017. $15.99 ISBN 978-1-250-11018. 85 pages.  Ages 6-8 . P7/Q8

Another installment in the Jigsaw Jones Mystery Series, The Case from Outer Space is a fun book for kids just beginning to read chapter books. Jigsaw, a 2nd grader and detective, is given a case by his friends who are convinced that aliens are an imminent threat. With the help of his friends and some detective skills he is able to solve the case and learn a little on the way.

Verdict: This short and funny book is one that would be great for a reluctant reader. It is broken up by some illustrations which add to the books charm. It is a popular series as well.

November 2018 review by Michelle Cottrell.

Book review: Once There Was a Story, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jane Dyer

Yolen, Jane. Once There Was a Story. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. Simon and Schuster, 2017. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7172-6. 135 pages. Includes bibliography. Ages 4-10. P8/Q9

A well thought out and beautifully crafted book, Once There Was a Story is a collection of fairy tales and folk tales from around the world. Containing 30 short stories in all it includes classics, lesser known tales, and 2 of Jane Yolen’s original short stories. Jane Dyer’s accompanying illustrations are a wonderful addition which only adds to the quality of the book.

Verdict: This would make a wonderful addition to any elementary library. The stories are varied and entertaining and the quality of the book itself would make it a copy that could hold up through the years and many hands. The binding is well made and it is a good size for a read aloud book.

November 2018 review by Michelle Cottrell.

Book reviews: Grin and Bear It: The Wit and Wisdom of Corduroy, based on the characters created by Don Freeman, pictures by Don Freeman and Judy Wheeler

Grin and Bear It: The Wit & Wisdom of Corduroy. Based on the characters created by Don Freeman. Pictures by Don Freeman and Judy Wheeler. Viking, 2018. $12.99. ISBN 9780451479297. Unpaged. Ages 7+. P6 Q7

If you are familiar with the children’s story, Corduroy, you will enjoy Grin and Bear it: The Wit & Wisdom of Corduroy. This small book is not a story but is filled with words of encouragement based on the story and illustrations of Corduroy. One page contains words of wisdom and encouragement and the facing page contains illustrations taken from the book Corduroy. From “Love what you see in the mirror” to “Never forget who you are and never forget who loves you,” I found the small book comforting and uplifting. Each page can be read on its own or straight through. Some of the words of wisdom may be a bit advanced for young children, but adults can explain the meaning.

Verdict: If I read this book to children, I would read Corduroy first so they would have a reference and the book would be more meaningful. Older children as well as adults will enjoy this book since it has familiar illustrations and words of encouragement that will warm their hearts. Corduroy was one of my daughter’s favorite books. As an adult, she enjoyed this small book of wisdom.

April 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: You Can!: Words of Wisdom From the Little Engine That Could, by Charlie Hart, illustrated by Jill Howarth

Hart, Charlie. You Can!: Words of Wisdom From the Little Engine That Could. Illustrated by Jill Howarth. Grosset & Dunlap, 2018. Unpaged. $12.99. ISBN 9781524784683. Ages 8+. P6 Q7

We are familiar with The Little Engine that Could and often read the book to inspire children to believe in themselves and to believe that they can accomplish their goals. This small book is not a story but is filled with quick and simple words of wisdom based on the story and illustrations from the Little Engine That Could. One page contains short words of wisdom and the other page contains colorful, cheerful illustrations. Each page can stand alone or can be read straight through. Some of the words of wisdom, such as, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel” may be advanced for young readers, but adults can explain the meaning to them.

Verdict: If I read this book to children, I would read The Little Engine that Could first. Without that, they would not have a reference for the book and it would not be as meaningful. I think older children and adults will enjoy this book since it has familiar illustrations and the words of wisdom reminding them that they can do it. I recommend this book for public libraries.

April 2018 review by Tami Harris.