Book review: The Truth about My Unbelievable Summer

Cali, Davide. The Truth about My Unbelievable Summer. Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle Books, 2016. Unpaged. $12.99. ISBN 9781452144832. Ages 6-9. P7Q8

I loved this book for its amazing pictures (I really liked the main character who looks like a hipster-kid). The typical back to school question elicits tales of a wild adventure including a treasure map, a trip to the beach, a hot air balloon and an unexpected twist. The story is a tall tale, and left me smiling!

VERDICT: Kids will like looking through this fun story for the wonderful pictures, and every kid will identify with being asked in school about what they did during the summer. The picture book format expands the rich, complex vocabulary of the story, making this a good conversation starter for elementary school students.

January 2018 review by Siletz Public Library volunteer.

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Book review: Give Me Back My Book!, by Travis Foster and Ethan Long

Foster, Travis and Ethan Long. Give Me Back My Book! Chronicle Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781452160405. 56 pages. Ages 4-8. P7 Q7

Give Me Back My Book follows Redd (a red creature) and Bloo (a blue creature) as they dialogue over whose book it is. As they are fighting over the book, a worm takes the book. While they devise a way to get the book back, they create a book together and develop a friendship. The illustrations are colorful and simple. The facial expressions show what the creatures are feeling.

Verdict: I highly recommend this book for public, school and personal libraries. Give Me Back My Book describes the parts of a book in an interesting way and would be great for a unit on creating a book. Children will be drawn in by the dialogue and team work between the creatures.

September 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Pomegranate Witch, by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Doyen, Denise. The Pomegranate Witch. Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Chronicle Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781452145891. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P7Q8

When the glowing red pomegranates hang heavy in the gnarled old tree and the old Pomegranate Witch who lives on the farm refuses to share the fruit, the local children declare war.  Told in rhyming text, with eerie, atmospheric watercolor and dip pen illustrations, this rollicking story of inventions and adventures is the perfect lead in to Halloween, when the Pomegranate Witch leaves for the night and the Kindly Lady takes over the farm to share the ripe and luscious pomegranates with the neighborhood children.

Verdict:  From the beginning to the endpapers, this lovely book is one to read and re-read.  Highly recommended for all children’s library collections.

September 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Curious Constructions: A Peculiar Portfolio of Fifty Fascinating Structures, by Michael Hearst, illustrated by Matt Johnstone

Hearst, Michael. Curious Constructions: A Peculiar Portfolio of Fifty Fascinating Structures. (Series: Uncommon Compendiums). Ill. by Matt Johnstone. Chronicle, 2017. $19.99. 102p. ISBN 978-1-4521-4484-9. Ages 8-12. P8 Q7

From the expected, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Stonehenge in England, to the unusual, such as a cathedral termite mound over 13 feet tall, author and illustrator delight and educate in this collection of human- and animal-created buildings. Each two-page spread has a full-page illustration, accompanied by smaller drawings, maps, diagrams, and portraits as well as true/false questions, history, or quirky facts following a few paragraphs about the structure. Earlier books in the series are Extraordinary People and Unusual Creatures.

Verdict: Humor and simplicity made this accessible book a great one to dip into although the narrative is stronger than the visuals. It’s global perspective is a boon to broadening the perspectives of youth to the entire world.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Pete with No Pants, by Rowboat Watkins

Watkins, Rowboat. Pete with No Pants. Chronicle Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781452144016. Unpaged. Ages 2-5. P7Q8

As Pete plays outside, he tries to figure out what he is. At first, he thinks that he’s a boulder, since he is big, gray, and not wearing pants, and that describes a boulder. Then he thinks he’s a squirrel, and then a cloud. While trying to answer this big question, Pete frolics around and tries to engage the flighty squirrels in word games. They aren’t very cooperative, but they do make sarcastic remarks. The quirky illustrations in soft pastel colors provide a wonderful backdrop for this cute story and show Pete’s personality and energy. I loved that Pete’s patient mom appears once in a while and tries to get Pete to put on his pants, and in the end she helps Pete answer his question.

VERDICT: A very cute, sweet story that will entertain little ones and their parents or teachers.

April 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: This Is How We Do It, by Mat Lamothe

Lamothe, Matt. This Is How We Do It. Chronicle Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781452150185. Unpaged. Ages 7-11. P8 Q8.

The book follows the lives of seven families and how they live a similar life yet so different from around the world: Iran, India, Peru, Japan, Italy, Uganda, and Russia.  Using a basic simple sentence story line, the illustrations and captions surrounding the story explain the differences for each county.  Although the countries are not in the same places on each page double page spread, they are labelled and do not interfere with the comprehension.  The book provides the reader with the perspectives of the different lives in the countries.  Underlined words in the story are then explained in the glossary for more understanding of the cultures and the illustration. Actual photographs of the real families that the author communicated with to write the story are at the end of the book. Endpapers are a world map identifying the location the children and the author’s home.

Verdict: Illustrations make the contents of the book accessible to a young reader who has limited exposure to other cultures.  It provides a basic view of diversity for the various countries explored in the book.

May 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Love Is, by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane

Adams, Diane. Love Is. Illustrated by Claire Keane. Chronicle Books, 2017. $15.99. ISBN 9781452139975. 32 pages. Ages 2-5. P7 Q8

This is a delightful story about a girl who finds and takes care of a duck. The love between the girl and the duck is evident. As the duck grows up, the girl has to let it go. In the end, the duck returns to the girl, along with its ducklings. I like how the author refers to the girl taking care of the duck as love, such as, “Love is noisy midnight feedings, shoe box right beside the bed.” The facial expressions on the girl’s face show the care and love she has towards the duck. The illustrations are realistic and help the reader relate the feelings the girl is going through. The story depicts a realistic view of raising a duck and the everyday things that would occur.

Verdict: This is a sweet book about the love between a girl and a duck. The girl discovers when she loves the duck and lets it go, it comes back to her. I recommend this book for families with young children and public libraries. This is a nice story for families to read together.

March 2017 review by Tami Harris.