Book review: Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

Underwood, Deborah. Interstellar Cinderella. Illustrated by Meg Hunt. Chronicle Books, 2015. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-2532-9. Ages 5-8. P8Q7

Space meets Cinderella, complete with wicked stepsisters and evil step mother. Instead of a ball it is the Prince’s Space Parade she will miss if she doesn’t fix a broken ship. Luckily she has been studying.  Cinderella can fix many things, but dreams of repairing spaceships. She makes it to the parade, fixes the Prince’s spaceship. A proposal brings an unexpected ending to this brightly illustrated remake of Cinderella.

VERDICT: Girls can be anything they want to be even if it is a spaceship mechanic.

December 2017 review by Patty Dodson.

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Book review: The 12 Sleighs of Christmas, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Jake Parker

Rinker, Sherri Duskey. The 12 Sleighs of Christmas. Illustrated by Jake Parker. Chronicle Books, 2017. Unp. $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-4521-4514-3. Gr. 1+. P9 Q8

What a quandary the elves have at Christmas time when they find Santa’s sleigh in need of repair. This situation leads to the elves building and developing new sleighs for Santa. Children will laugh at the comical illustrations of the different and complicated sleighs. In the end, Santa chooses the original repaired sleigh. The rhyming text adds to the appeal of the book.

Verdict: This book will appeal to elementary age students any time of the year. The book would also be a great addition to holiday collection.

January 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

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.

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.