Book review: Betty’s Burgled Bakery: An Alliteration Adventure, by Travis Nichols

Nichols, Travis. Betty’s Burgled Bakery: An Alliteration Adventure. Chronicle Books, 2017. $14.99. Unpaged. ISBN 9781452131832. Ages 4-8. P7Q8

Hilarious! The bakery has been robbed of all its tasty treats, and the Gumshoe Zoo detectives are called in to solve the case. The story is told in a comic book style, and we follow the detectives through their investigation. The dialogue is full of great vocabulary and lots of alliteration, and various parts will twist your tongue if you read this out loud. For example- “gluttonous gobbler of gluten-y goods.” The mystery is solved- it’s a case of sleep eating! The illustrations are blocky, colorful and fun. Toward the end, we have a definition of alliteration, and a page that describes some hungry animals (this part didn’t quite seem necessary to me).

VERDICT: This book will be very entertaining to kids who are learning to play with language. I think it might work well in writing classes with kids older than 8 as a fun prompt.

October 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: Animal City, by Joan Negrescolor

Negrescolor, Joan. Animal City. Chronicle Books, 2018. $18.99. ISBN 9781452170299. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8

Animal City is an illustration-driven book with bold colors and geometric shapes on white pages. Nina visits her special place, an old city that has been taken back by the jungle and its animals, where she reads stories to the flamingos, monkeys, snakes, and jaguars—all living together peacefully. The concept of human cities slowly returning to the natural world is spooky and causes the reader to imagine what drove the humans from their home in the first place. The book delivers the impetus for a grander story despite its minimal text.

Verdict: Animal City’s wonderful illustrations are accompanied by minimal text and may spark many writing prompts for young creative writers or storytellers. I recommend it for school and public libraries.

October 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Ta-Da!, by Kathy Ellen Davis, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Davis, Kathy Ellen. Ta-Da! Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita. Chronicle Books, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781452145136. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P9Q9

This creative story uses repeating phrases to convey conflict – Dun Dun Duh! and resolution – Ta-Da! Two children go back and forth changing the direction of the story; taking it from a crystal castle, to a pirate ship, to an island vacation… wherever their imaginations take them. Along the way they encounter dragons, pirates, and magicians. The vivid illustrations are bold and provide lots of interesting details. In the end, the  little girl and little boy work to use their magical powers together to create the perfect story.

Verdict: This is a great book for both school and home. Children can see the power of using imagination come to life in this book. I also see this as a great book for young siblings dealing with conflict resolution.

August 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Knock Out, by K.A. Holt

Holt, K. A. Knock Out. Chronicle Books, 2018. 339 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-4521-6358-1. Gr. 5+. P8 Q8

The book flap stated that this is a companion to the author’s book House Arrest, which I read and enjoyed. The story of Levi, a young boy who had problems at birth, is told in free verse. The mother is always worried that the conditions he had as a baby will follow him through his life. This sentiment is not what Levi, now 11 years-old feels, though he carries an inhaler with him at all times. It is through boxing that he becomes more self-assured and he is a natural at it. Boxing is expensive and neither of his divorced parents can afford it or the private school he wishes to attend. Levi runs a bill up at the boxing place and his father is faced with a bill that he cannot pay.  Holt’s characters are well developed and though it seems that Levi’s character is self-absorbed, he is not. It is through his ingenuity that he finds a way to solve the problem of going to the private school.

Verdict: I enjoyed the way that Levi developed into a strong independent young man. If you enjoyed House Arrest you will enjoy this as well.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes, by Hena Khan, illustrated by Merdokht Amini

Khan, Hena. Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes. Illus. by Merdokht Amini. Chronicle Books, 2018. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-4521-5541-8. Ages 6-8. P8Q10

Four-line poems on each two-page spread include one shape, such as cone and cube, that go from simple to more advanced; one word from the Islam religion, for example, wudu (ritual handwashing) and salaam (the greeting of “peace”); and depictions of Islamic art, architecture, and culture in a different country. An author’s note explains the importance of shapes and geometry in Islamic art and architecture because Islam prevents depictions of living things. The glossary of Islamic terms gives a pronunciation guide.

Verdict: This beautiful book, calling for close examination over and over, is an excellent companion for the author’s and illustrator’s Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns (2012), which featured a Western Muslim family.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Cycle City, by Alison Farrell

Farrell, Alison. Cycle City. Chronicle Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781452163345. Unpaged. Ages 2-7. P7 Q7

If you like all types of bicycles, this is the book for you! A parade committee made up of five pigs need to deliver invitations for the Starlight parade. The Mayor, a snail, offers to deliver the invitations. As the Mayor delivers the invitations, questions in the text invite the reader to find animals and items on each page. The Mayor travels from the train station to downtown, in the park, by food bikes, at the canal, and over the bridge. This book features colorful illustrations of animals riding different types of bicycles as they gather to ride in the parade. The end pages label many types of bicylces, giving the reader additional knowledge. This is Farrell’s first book, she lives in Portland Oregon.

Verdict: The first word that enters my mind with this book is engaging. Children can spend a lot of time looking at each page. I do not recommend it for a read aloud to a group of children due to the speaking bubbles on the pages, busy illustrations, and things to find, but it is ideal for reading one on one with a child. Children will notice new things each time they read the book.

April 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Everything You Need for a Treehouse, by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Emily Hughes

Higgins, Carter. Illustrated by Emily Hughes. Everything You Need for a Treehouse. Chronicle Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781452142555. Unp. Ages 4-8. P7 Q9

This book is a lovely tribute to the joys and possibilities of childhood. It’s a beautifully written how-to guide to imagining the perfect treehouse. Any kind of house is possible. The book’s full-page illustrations share several detailed options, from a greenhouse treehouse to a tree-castle. Among the numerous possibilities, there are constants for building a treehouse—proper snacks and good friends.

Verdict: Any reader who appreciates treehouses, trees, or designing things would enjoy this book. It is a great addition to any public or school library.

June 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.