Book review: Ada Lace, on the Case, Emily Calandrelli, with Tamson Weston ; illustrated by Renée Kurilla

Calandrelli, Emily, with Tamson Weston. Ada Lace, on the Case. Illustrated by Renee Kurilla. Simon & Schuster, 2017. $6.99. ISBN 9781481485982. 124 Pages. Ages 6-10. P7 Q7

Full of friendship, detective work, and intrigue, Ada Lace, on the Case, will captivate young readers. Ada moves to San Francisco and does not have any friends yet. With her leg in a cast and her mother leaving for a few days, Ada feels lonely. Before her mom leaves, she arranges for Nina, a girl Ada’s age to come over. Ada makes a field guide of her new neighborhood. In the process, she meets a Nina and they discover their neighbors dog is missing. I enjoyed the field guide of the neighborhood and how Ada took notes on what was going on around her. This book is in the chapter book series, Ada Lace Adventure book 1. It is set up for a sequel, but it can also stand alone.

Verdict: This chapter book would be a good addition to any children’s library. The short chapters make it easy to read and the mystery about a missing dog will keep the reader wondering who took the dog and why.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris


Book review: Llama Llama and Friends, created by Anna Dewdney, illustrated by JJ Harrison

Dewdney, Anna. Llama Llama and Friends.  Illustrated by JJ Harrison. Penguin Young Readers Licenses, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781524783921. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P8 Q8

Llama Llama sets out to run errands for his mother. Along the way, he encounters his friends, has fun, and accomplishes his goals. If you like the Llama Llama series, you will enjoy this book. It is based on the Netflix animated series based on Anna Dewdney’s books.  For readers who were saddened when Anna passed away, this book will warm your heart and show that her work continues even after  she is gone. Anna passed away in September, 2016 from brain cancer.

Verdict: Friendship, kindness and teamwork are emphasized and celebrated. I teach at a school and was pleased to notice examples of all 7 habits of happy kids are weaved into the story. I will be reading the book during our school wide unit on the 7 habits of Happy kids. A valuable book for any library for young children.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris

[Editor’s note: Unlike books in the original Llama Llama series, this book refers to the young character simply as “Llama” and lacks the characteristic rhyming cadence of the originals.  For children who love the Netflix animated series, this may be a good choice, but for those who loved Dewdney’s originals, a better choice might be to re-visit her earlier titles.]

Book review: Thelma the Unicorn, by Aaron Blabey

Blabey, Aaron. Thelma the Unicorn. Scholastic Press, 2017. $14.95. ISBN 9781338158427. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P8 Q8

If you like pink, glitter and unicorns, you will love Thelma the Unicorn. Thelma is a pony who wishes to become a unicorn. She ties a carrot to her nose and has a run in with pink paint and glitter. This results in her becoming a unicorn! However, things do not turn out how she had imagined. The cover of the book is raised sliver glitter. Children will be captivated by Thelma and also learn that what we wish may not be all we think it will be.

Verdict: Through Thelma’s experience, children will see how they are special the way they are–they do not need to be something else. We do not need to be something else to be special, we are special just the way we are.  Highly recommended for young children’s libraries.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris

Book review: The Only Lonely Panda, by Jonny Lambert

Lambert, Jonny. The Only Lonely Panda. Tiger Tales, 2017. ISBN 978-1-68010-065-5.  $16.99.  32 p.  Ages 3-7.  Q7P8

I love the artwork in this book!  Panda wants to be friends with the other Panda so badly, but doesn’t know where to start.  He tries to mimic the animals around him to get her attention.  Dancing like flamingos, bouncing like lemurs, or stomping like the blue-footed booby doesn’t seem to help.  In the end, sharing a meal does!  I really like the message that sharing helps make friends.  I was not so happy that Panda only wanted to be friends with the other panda.  There were lots of other animals around him that could have been fun to meet.


Verdict:  A beautiful book with a nice message, unless you look too deep.  For the younger kids an explanation may be needed why Panda doesn’t consider being friends with the other animals in the book.

December 2017 review  by Terri Lippert.

Book review: A Christmas for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Becker, Bonny. A Christmas for Bear. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. ISBN 9780763649234. Ages 5-9. P8Q7

I loved this story about Bear, who wants to have a Christmas party but isn’t exactly sure how to go about it, and Mouse, who really wants a Christmas present. Bear is pretty sure that you have to have pickles at Christmas, and long, difficult poems. Mouse scurries around the house looking for his present, which must be hidden somewhere! After Mouse eats some of his pickle, and listens to part of the poem, we discover that there is indeed a present for him. I love the humorous illustrations (in watercolor, gouache, and ink) and the descriptive language, as well as the warm story about friendship.  I will be happy to add this book to our collection of Christmas stories for children.

VERDICT: This book is a good bet for elementary school and public libraries.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Barnett, Mac. The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse. Ill. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-7636-7754-1. Ages 4-7. P8Q9

A mouse finds a new home and a new friend in the belly of a wolf after the “beast” swallows both the mouse and a duck, and they set up housekeeping. The best part of living there, according to the mouse, is that they don’t have to be afraid of being swallowed by wolves. When the wolf gets sick to its stomach from the mouse and duck dancing, mouse’s solution is for it to swallow cheese and wine. The intrepid couple save the wolf from a hunter, and the other two keep their happy home. The illustrations show a happy home complete with a full kitchen, a candlelit dinner, and formal dress for the mouse and duck.

Verdict: The language has the charm of old fables, and the soft grays and browns in the mixed media offer a peaceful feeling. Another whimsical collaboration between a fine author and an illustrator.

November 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Les and Ronnie Step Out, by Andrew Kolb

Kolb, Andrew. Les and Ronnie Step Out.  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780399546198. Unpaged.  Ages 6-10. P8 Q8.

Les is a “straight-laced” leg while Ronnie is opposite.  Things change after Ronnie has a skateboarding accident.  Les misses the fun ways of Ronnie.  Les works to cheer up Ronnie.  So, Les wears one of Ronnie’s shoes and then acts like him.  He learns the valuable lesson of what it is like to be in “someone else’s shoes.” The first set of end pages show pictures of plain brown tied shoes on one side and on the opposing page silly colorful untied shoes.  The final end pages show one out of place in the plain brown tied shoes signifying the change that takes place in the book.

Verdict:  It is a good fit book for young readers and teaching in understanding differences in people.  Also, it portrays the two personality types A and B. It is a fun book for libraries, reading aloud, and discussing.

November 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.