Book review: Grace for Gus, by Harry Bliss

Bliss, Harry.  Grace for Gus.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2018.  ISBN 978-0-06-264410-7. $17.99. 40 pages.  Ages teen and up.  P7 Q7

Grace is a highly talented elementary school student who takes it upon herself to make money for her classroom to buy their guinea pig, Gus, a guinea pig friend.  Grace does this by sneaking out her bedroom window at night to entertain the people of New York by playing her violin on street corners, caricaturing in the park, and pole dancing on a subway. The author tells the story through engaging, colorful illustrations in comic book format, with no dialogue.

My only complaint is Grace is an elementary student who sneaks out her bedroom window to perform for money in the middle of the night.  Grace has two parents (two men) who seemingly love her very much.  How is it remotely plausible that an elementary school student from a loving family without hardship would think to do this, much less actually do it?  Therefore, the believability of the book is questionable, while the story of the book is sweet, kind, and adventuresome.

For the adults reading the book, throughout the story Bliss adds references to famous people and places, from as early as the 70’s to present day.  Some with a biting sense of humor.  For instance, Donald Trump sitting on the subway in front of a tax relief poster.

Verdict:  An amazingly illustrated story for all ages, which may require some guidance for the younger readers.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

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Book review: Bamboo for Me, Bamboo for You!, by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Purificacion Hernandez

Manushkin, Fran.  Bamboo for Me, Bamboo for You!  Illustrated by Purificacion Hernandez.  Aladdin, 2017.  ISBN 978-1-4814-5063-8. $17.99. 32 pages. Ages 4-8.  P6 Q6

A digitally illustrated book about two panda sisters named Amanda and Miranda.  This book has lots of rhyming, sibling fun, and sibling fighting.  The book highlights the uses of bamboo–it’s not just for eating–and is set in a zoo, so the siblings can see what some of the other animals eat.

Verdict:  An early learner rhyming book with some opportunity for conversation regarding what other animals eat and their lives in a zoo.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Nothing Happens in this Book, by Judy Ann Sadler, illustrated by Vigg

Sadler, Judy Ann.  Nothing Happens in this Book.  Illustrated by Vigg.  Kids Can Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-77138-737-8. $16.99. 40 pages.  Ages 6-8.  P5 Q5

A goofy pointy headed man tells  me there is nothing at the end of the book, so I should stop reading it…and the color scheme is in yellow and black.  Ok!  I’ll stop!  There isn’t a lot about this book that makes me want to keep reading it except on each page thereafter the goofy little man finds a toy or prop seemingly without an owner.  It isn’t until we get to the end of the book that we find out who all of the stuff belongs too.

Verdict:  This book could be a lot more appealing if the illustrations were cuter and the color scheme was different.  Almost any other color combination.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Catch My Breath, by Paul Briggs

Briggs, Paul.  Catch My Breath.  “Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase.” Disney Hyperion, 2017.  ISBN 978-148472837-6.  $16.99.  48 Pages.  Ages 6+.  P7 Q8

Digitally created illustrations with black bold lines on white background and splashes of color here and there, create a world where a little boy attempts to determine the actual meaning of the phrases he hears from his mother which contain the word “breath”.  How does someone “Catch their breath” or “Grumble under our breath”?  The illustrations and the author’s literal interpretation of the phrases are both delightful.

Because of the topic, I don’t feel children will pick up this book on their own, but will have to be introduced to it by an adult.  Additionally, because the author is depicting the literal version of the phrase, some children may continue to be confused as to what the phrases actually mean.

Verdict:  A good example of idiom beautifully illustrated for elementary schoolers and people of all ages.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Mouse, by Zebo Ludvicek

Ludvicek, Zebo.  Mouse.  Putnam, 2017.  ISBN 978-1-101-99636-2.  $16.99.  40 Pages.  Ages 3-5.  P8Q9

Letter M sees that Mouse has a bright red cherry, which looks very yummy, so asks for a bite.  Mouse, after some persuading, agrees to share his cherry with the Letter M.  Because M ate the whole cherry M invites Mouse to take bites of him.  In doing so Mouse creates new letters.  M speaks predominantly with words starting with the letter it is at the time.  In the beginning M words, Munch, Marvelous, Myself, and Wow, when he’s upside down.  Once his form changes, his words change.  Nibble and Nod when it’s an N and so on.

A beautiful book created by digital mixed media with bold graphics on a white or pale blue background.  The mouse on the cover is adorable and is what drew me to the book.

Verdict: Good story for pre-school children about making mistakes and making up for them while learning some interesting ways to change a letter into new letter.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Motor Goose, by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Jef Kaminsky

Colby, Rebecca.  Motor Goose.  Illustrated by Jef Kaminsky.  Feiwel and Friends, 2017.  ISBN 978-1-250-10193-8.  $16.99.  32 Pages.  Ages 2-5.  Q9P9

A parody of traditional children’s rhymes with a “Motor” theme.  Little Jack Horner is now Little Jack Junker.  Illustrated digitally, with silly automobile caricatures and cute animals, this book shows a great deal of imagination to make these rhymes work within the parameters of the theme.

Verdict: A fun spinoff of Mother Goose rhymes for all toddlers!

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.

Book review: Honk! Splat! Vroom!, by Barry Gott

Gott, Barry. Honk! Splat! Vroom! Carolrhoda Books, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-5124-4140-6. $17.99. 32 pages.  Ages 3-6.  P6 Q6

A fun, digitally illustrated, children’s book with the story told almost entirely by the illustrations and sounds.  Five mice are racing their cars on a muddy, water obstacle filled course, so lots of honking, crashing, vrooming, and splatting.  The mice clearly are taking this race very seriously because when mishaps happen there are tears, anger, and frustration.  Distinct facial expressions more than make up for the lack of dialog.   When a hungry cat disrupts the race it becomes clear to the mice they need to work together if they all want to cross the finish line.

Overall the graphics didn’t appeal to me because of the severity of some of the expressions.  Clearly this is needed to get the author’s point across, so maybe my complaint is about the author’s point.  There are moments of euphoria at the expense of another mouse or mice.  Pretty sure this isn’t teaching good sportsmanship to a very young audience.

Verdict:  A good book for toddlers and early elementary schoolers working on recognizing and differentiating facial expressions with emotions.  Not a good example of good sportsmanship.  With mediation, this book could be added to a school library.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert.