Book review: Bundle of Nerves: A Story of Courage, by Mari Schuh, illustrated by Natalia Moore

Schuh, Mari. Bundle of Nerves: A Story of Courage. Illustrated by Natalia Moore. Millbrook Press, 2018. $25.32. ISBN 9781512486452. 24 pages. Ages 4-8. P6 Q8

There are many events children can worry about in a day. How can you help children have courage? With three short chapters, “So Very Nervous,” “Being Brave,”, and “Facing my Fear,” Luis discovers that he can have courage by riding a bus, asking for help and making new friends. Not only does he realize he is courageous, he ends up having fun along the way. Illustrations of children showing racial diversity add to the depth of the book. Narrative boxes containing explanations, such as “It takes courage to ask for help” emphasize the courage aspect that is being shown on the page. Some phrases are highlighted in red for emphasis. This book is in the Cloverleaf books: Stories with Character series. There is a courage activity at the back of the book along with a glossary, index, and book titles and websites about courage.

Verdict: The situations portrayed in this book are similar to what most children in school experience. Both relevant and relatable to children, I recommend this book for elementary school libraries. I will be using this book in my Character Ed class to teach courage. From a teacher’s perspective, this book is valuable in a classroom setting, once read to children, they will be more apt to pick it up and read it themselves.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: My Best Friend is a Goldfish, by Mark Lee, illustrated by Chris Jevons

Lee, Mark. My Best Friend is a Goldfish. Illustrated by Chris Jevons. Carolrhoda Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781512426014. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Do friends need to be play together all the time, enjoy the same things, and always get along? A boy is an astronaut and his friend is a pirate. When he realizes that he does not always get along with his best friend, he looks for a new friend elsewhere. He tries to be best friends with his dog, cat, hamster, and goldfish while doing everything they do. It is comical to see how the boy tries to eat from a dog dish and be the same as his animal friends. He discovers that friends do not need to be exactly alike to be best friends. Just as cookies and milk are different, friends can be different also. The illustrations match the text and add to the boy’s adventure, drawing the reader into his imaginative world.

Verdict: This lighthearted, colorful, slightly comical story would be a good addition to any children’s library. Children often want their friends to only play with them and to play the same things they want to play.  In a humorous way, readers will learn the importance of accepting others even if they are not exactly like them.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Idea Jar, by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Deb Pilutti

Lehrhaupt, Adam. Idea Jar. Deb Pilutti. Simon & Schuster, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481451666. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

If you want to inspire a child to create a story, Idea Jar, is the book for you. The teacher has an idea jar where all ideas are written on a piece of paper and kept. As ideas go into the jar, they are colorful costume illustrations. What happens when the ideas sit in the jar? They get rowdy and can cause trouble! Creating a story is fun with the bright and colorful characters as they weave together to create a story. Emphasizing all ideas are good and when one thinks they are finished, they can always add more ideas to expand their story. Lehrhaupt explores the different ways to create a story including writing, drawing, talking and combining ideas.

Verdict: Lehrhaupt encourages writing, exploring ideas and how to come up with a story in an imaginative way. I highly recommend this book for libraries for elementary school age children. I can see teachers using this book to help their students, at varying levels, create stories and publish books.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: We All Have Value: A Story of Respect, by Mari Schuh, illustrated by Mike Byrne

Schuh, Mari. We All Have Value: A Story of Respect. Illustrated by Mike Byrne. Stories with Character series. Millbrook Press, 2018.  $25.32. ISBN 9781512486506. 24 pages. Ages 5-8. P6 Q8

Respect is something we wish to instill in children, but how can we help them understand the importance of treating others with respect? With three short chapters, “Waiting our Turn,” “Thinking of Others,” and “Showing Respect,” Idil and her friends discover what it means to be respectful. The illustrations of racial and ethnically diverse children are large and take up a large portion of the page, which shows the importance of the children and their relationship with each other. The facial expressions on the children shows how they are feeling. Narrative boxes containing explanations, such as “letting everyone join in is respectful” emphasize the respect aspect that is being played out on the page. Some phrases are highlighted in red for emphasis. This book is in the Cloverleaf books: Stories with Character series. There is a respect activity at the back of the book along with a glossary, index, and book titles and websites about respect.

Verdict: The situations portrayed in this book are similar to what most children in school experience. It is relevant and relatable for children. I will be using this book in my Character Ed class to teach respect. In addition to respect, it also encourages children to show empathy. From a teacher’s perspective, this book is valuable in a classroom setting, once read to children, they will be more apt to pick it up and read it themselves.

March 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Will You Help Doug Find His Dog?, by Jane Caston, illustrated by Carmen Saldana

Caston, Jane. Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? Illustrated by Carmen Saldana. Barefoot Books, 2017. $14.24  ISBN:9781782853206. Gr. PreK-K. P7Q8

Doug lost his dog and through a process of sorting and elimination (e.g., finding the 4 spotted dogs out of 10 on the page, when Doug says his dog is spotted) readers help him find it.  The author also encourages active participation by suggesting readers “shake the book” to shake off the mud on a dog, or to kiss the dog.

Verdict: This book teaches the basics of classifying things, which is an important early concept for PK-K.   Vivid watercolor/pencil and digitally rendered illustrations make this picture book especially engaging for very young readers.

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

Book review: Little Red Riding Hood, by Ed Bryan

Bryan, Ed. Little Red Riding Hood. Nosy Crow, 2015. Unpaged. $9.99  ISBN: 0763693316. Gr.PreK-2. P6 Q6

A fun adaptation of the classic story, with a bit of a twist at the end (yes, Grandma is safe.)

Verdict: The bright illustrations are fun and help to engage the reader/listener (it would be a good read-aloud.)  It would be an interesting classroom experience to compare and contrast all the versions of this tale.

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

Book review: Stanley’s Store, by William Bee

Bee, William. Stanley’s Store. Peachtree, 2017.  $14.95  ISBN:9781561458684. Unpaged.  Gr. Pre-K. P6 Q7

Simple, bright illustrations pop out on every page of this early reader. Stanley the hamster returns in a story about running his own grocery store.

Verdict: Though there is a storyline in the text, there’s enough in the illustrations to engage nonreaders in this book.  Preschool teachers might find this helpful for teaching shapes, numbers and colors, and it would be a lot of fun to have children create and narrate their own “Stanley.”

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