Book review: Little Bot and Sparrow, by Jake Parker

Parker, Jake. Little Bot and Sparrow. Roaring Brook Press, 2016. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1-62672-367-2.  Ages 3-6. P7 Q8.

When Little Bot is discarded, he has nothing to do. Fortunately, along comes a sparrow who decides to take him under her wing. They explore the forest together and Little Bot learns about many new things, including bees, bears, and caves with beautiful secrets. When Sparrow must fly south for the winter, Little Bot learns that he can do impossible things in his dreams.

The illustrations in this tale of friendship are detailed and funny. The text is simple, and the illustrations fill in the rest. Children reading this story may be reminded of friends or relatives who have gone away, and the message that we keep our loved ones in our hearts.

VERDICT: A sweet tale of friendship with illustrations that will entertain little ones.

May 2018 review by Sudi Stodola.

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Book review: Santa Rex, by Molly Schaar Idle

Idle, Molly Schaar. Santa Rex. Viking, 2017. $17.99. Unpaged. ISBN: 978-0425-29011-8. Ages 4-8. P6 Q7.

This charmingly illustrated book is has a sweetly nostalgic feel, as the young brother and sister prepare their home for Christmas with the help of their three dinosaur friends. The text is short, and the illustrations show the humor, as the group attempts to bake cookies, hang stockings, and decorate the tree, but the dinosaurs can’t help breaking things as they try to help. In the end, though, the dinosaurs find a way to make Christmas magical, because the holiday is really about being with the ones you love.

This is a fun read for younger children because the text is minimal and the pictures are funny. The book includes page-sized illustrations, pages with three illustrated panels, and a fold-out poster, and each picture includes funny details that the reader can look for.

VERDICT: The message of being together for the holidays, paired with the pastel-colored illustrations gives the story a heartwarming feel.

May 2018 review by Sudi Stodola.

Book reviews: The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan, pictures by Tom Knight

Laditan, Bunmi, and Tom Knight. The Big Bed. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-374-301231. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

In this charmingly illustrated story, a young girl presents her father with a proposal as to why he must vacate the “big bed” and allow her and Mommy to sleep together. She offers evidence for her argument; he is not afraid of the dark; there are benefits to her “accidents,” and how uncomfortable it is for him to have to scrunch down into the corner to give her and Mommy enough room. She even offers him an alternative sleeping arrangement. In the end, we see the three of them together, but we don’t know how convincing her argument was.

This is a cute story for children who still seek out the comfort of sleeping with their parents in the “big bed.” The arguments the little girl presents are humorous and the illustrations are colorful and add flavor to the story. The faces of the characters add to the humor.

VERDICT: This is a fun book for younger children and would make a humorous read aloud. It would also serve well in a classroom as a mentor text for how to write an argument.

May 2018 review by Sudi Stodola.

Book review: A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White., by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Herkert, Barbara. A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White. Illustrated by Lauren Castillo  Christy Ottaviano Books, 2017. $18.99 ISBN: 9781627792455. Unpaged. Gr. K-2. P7 Q10

This exquisitely written and beautifully illustrated book, written by Newport author Barbara Herkert, introduces the author of Charlotte’s Web to young readers.  E.B. White’s early childhood was filled with explorations of nature and interactions with all sorts of animal life, including a “bold mouse” who later became famous as Stuart Little.   Readers will be captivated by this sweet tale, which shows how adult E.B. (now Andy, editor at The New Yorker) moved his young family to a farm in Maine, where he became inspired to write his famous children’s books.  This book would be an excellent introduction to a classroom reading of his chapter books.  Also contains a brief biography and bibliography.

March 2018 review by N.H.S. students, edited and compiled by Liz Fox.

Book review: Ribbit, by Jorey Hurley

Hurley, Jorey. Ribbit. Simon & Schuster, 2017. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9781481432740. Ages 3-5. P8Q8

Simple, bold illustrations created in Photoshop combined with a single word in each 2-page spread introduce young children to the first year in the life cycle of the northern leopard frog.  The changes from egg to tadpole, tadpole to polliwog, polliwog to froglet, and then to adult hibernating, before beginning the cycle again are given in the illustrations, though the words for the stages are not a part of the book.  Even the ideas of frog as both predator and prey come through in the pictures.

Verdict:  This introduction to the life cycle of frogs is an effective early science book. The visual design is striking, but the spare text does not introduce naming words such as tadpole.  The author’s note at the end of the book does fill in some gaps, but may not be as useful for very young readers. Recommended for preschool, kindergarten and public library collections.

May 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: A Stone for Sascha, by Aaron Becker

Becker, Aaron. A Stone for Sascha. Candlewick Press, 2018. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9780763665968. Ages 5-up. P7Q8

A young girl collects flowers to leave on the grave of a beloved dog and then the family leaves for a trip to the beach.  The grieving girl finds a golden stone whose history began with the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and then played a part in many cultures thoughout the world’s history, becoming smaller and smaller with the passing time.  The girl finds closure as she places the special stone on the dog’s grave.

Verdict: The soft focus illustrations in this wordless picture book convey both the enormity of the stone’s history and the emotions of the family, not least the loneliness of losing a beloved pet.  Aaron Becker is also the author/illustrator of other wordless picture books, Journey, Quest, and Return. Highly recommended for kindergarten, elementary, and public library collections.

May 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: The Big Umbrella, by Amy June Bates, co-written with Juniper Bates

Bates, Amy June, co-written with Juniper Bates. The Big Umbrella. “A Paula Wiseman Book.” Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9781534406582. Ages 3-5. P10Q10

Simple text and colorful watercolor illustrations bring the story of a cheerful red umbrella, big enough to shelter everyone, to life.  As a child walks out into the rain, the umbrella that keeps out the rain becomes larger and larger as more individuals come needing protection. The brilliantly colored illustrations us a bird’s-eye view to show the umbrella and only show the feet of the growing multitude that it shelters.  The story came to be following a conversation between author/illustrator Amy June Bates and her daughter.

Verdict: This cheerful, inclusive book encourages the reader to share resources, not by demanding that everyone shares, but by showing how community grows when shared.  Highly recommended for pre-school/kindergarten, elementary collections, and public libraries.

May 2018 review by Jane Cothron.