Book review: Good Day, Good Night, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loren Long

Brown, Margaret Wise. Good Day, Good Night. Illustrated by Loren Long. Harper, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9780062383105. Unpaged.  Ages 4-8. P9 Q9.

Brown follows the beloved pattern of the book Goodnight Moon with a bunny greeting the day, playing, and then saying good night.  I was surprised to see an illustration of a milk truck which is not relatable to children of this generation.  I would have thought she would have a delivery truck of packages instead. Otherwise, I just love the book and the cute bunny with the clothes help children make a connection to the personified animal and there is a little adorable orange tabby cat (Kitty) that is on most of the pages beside the bunny. The first end pages show a sunrise and the last one of a sunset.

Verdict: Libraries should make sure it is part of their collection.

November 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

[Editor’s note: Released on the 70th anniversary of the publication of Goodnight Moon, this previously unpublished work by Margaret Wise Brown echos the rhythm and cadence of the earlier beloved bedtime story.  Nostalgic illustrations by Loren Long, the creator of the Otis the Tractor books, pay homage to the work of Goodnight Moon illustrator Clement Hurd, and pair daytime and nighttime scenes of the bunny and the village.]

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Book review: The Bad Seed, by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald

John, Jory. The Bad Seed. Illustrated by Pete Oswald. Harper, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9780062467768. Ages 4-8. P8Q9.

I loved this book with its dark, funny illustrations and can almost hear a film noir character reading the lines. The Seed is a sunflower seed who had a traumatic experience and was almost eaten by a huge man. After that, he became a Bad Seed. He began to do really baaaaaad things; he was bad on purpose, kept to himself, became a drifter, and didn’t care at all. He lied, cut in lines, stopped washing his hands, and was late to everything. Being bad suited him. At least for a while. But then he realized that he wanted to be happy, and made a conscious decision to become less bad. It’s hard to be good when you’ve been bad so long, but now the Bad Seed is trying, and it is paying off.  Other seeds are noticing and his life is changing. This book might strike a note in kids who get angry or scared about things and behave badly as a result, or in kids who know someone like that.

VERDICT: This will be an excellent read aloud for public libraries and elementary school classrooms. There is plenty to talk about- attitudes, manners, and the meaning of “bad seed,” for example.

October 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Cinnamon, by Neil Gaiman, pictures by Divya Srinivasan

Gaiman, Neil. Cinnamon. Illus. by Divya Srinivasan. Harper, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-06-239961-8. Ages 6-8. P9Q9

Cinnamon, a blind princess in a country of the far past, refused to speak, and her desperate parents, the Rajah and Rani, promised a reward for anyone who could teach her to talk. The whimsy surfaces throughout the folk-type tale goes from gentle to dark as the “reward” is a palace room, a portrait, a field of mango trees, and a green parrot and the aged aunt ends up being eaten by the tiger that makes Cinnamon talk through pain, fear, and love. Flat, naif illustrations use bold colors to give the calm feeling of a wealthy family secure in the greenness apart from the heat of the nation as the reader sees the action framed by doorways and natural objects. The opaque appearance of Cinnamon’s pearlescent eyes highlight her beauty, and the matte illustrations filled with jewels and elephants give an authenticity to the South Asian setting. The huge tiger adds strength and excitement to the story. The author first posted the story on his website over 20 years ago.

Verdict: Strong visuals move the story forward, and the plot twists provide a compelling read. Quirky and delightfully bizarre.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: One Half from the East, by Nadia Hashimi

Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. Harper, 2016. 256 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-242190-6. Gr. 6+. P8 Q8

The day that Obayda’s policeman father loses his leg in a Kabul car bombing is the day her life changes forever. With no money coming in, ten-year-old Obayda and her family must move to a remote village to be near her father’s family. Her father’s demeanor has changed, he never leaves his bed and he has nothing to do with his family any more. Her aunt thinks that if there were a boy in the family things would be different. Obayda is chosen to be a bacha posh, a girl who dresses as a boy, to bring honor back to her family. What a revelation this is for a Obayda, who can now do boy things! She soon overcomes any awkwardness and enjoys her new status. But, bacha posh are only free until puberty. Is there a way for Obayda–now Obayd–to remain free?  This story allows us a glimmer of what life is like for girls in a traditional Muslim home in Afghanistan.

Verdict: For those who love to read books about other cultures this is the book to read.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The Lincoln Project, by Dan Gutman

Gutman, Dan. The Lincoln Project. (Flashback Four series) Harper, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-237441-7. 224 p. Gr. 3 – 7. P9Q7

gutman-lincoln-projectLuke, Julia, David, and Isabel are recruited to be Miss Z’s time travelers.  She wants to collect pictures from historic events and has invented a time machine.  This time machine will allow travelers to return once to a momentous event in history where the four travelers can snap a picture.  For the first time-traveling event Miss Z selects President Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.  The travelers meet with some struggles and don’t end up succeeding at their mission.

Verdict: This book ends on an edge-or-your-seat cliff hanger.  I’m not fond of that device.  If I spend money on a book, I want the complete story, not one that ends with “If you want to know how this ends, you’ll have to buy my next book.”  Aside from the ending, the book is a satisfying read.  There are historic facts embedded in the narrative, so a young reader will get a sense of the event.  There’s also enough action to keep a reader engaged.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.

Book review: This Is the Earth, by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, paintings by Wendell Minor

Shore, Diane Z., and Alexander, Jessica. This is the Earth. Paintings by Wendell Minor. Harper, 2016. Unp. $17.99. ISBN: 9780060555269. Gr. 1+. P8 Q8

shore-this-is-the-earthThe end papers of this book have a painting of the Earth seen from the moon. A photograph was taken by astronaut Bill Anders who commented “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” The message of this book is to take care of Earth. The environmental message is told in a rhyming text with illustrations that help to carry the message.

Verdict: What a great book to read aloud to a class which is studying the earth. It would also be great to use along with Earth Day.

November 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: Swing Sideways, by Nanci Turner Steveson

Steveson, Nanci Turner. Swing sideways. Harper, 2016. 278 pgs. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-237454-7. Gr. 4+. P8 Q8

steveson-swing-sidewaysAnnabel is promised that this will be the summer of freedom for her. It is a summer of discovery for her and her new friend, California. Annabel, who narrates the story, finds a true friend, and a quest–to find the horses her new friend’s mother spoke of as a young girl.  Annabel also finds a loss that is devastating to her. Over the course of the summer, she becomes more sure of herself and gains the ability to stand up for herself.

Verdict: This would be a great book to give to someone who is dealing with the loss of a friend or someone who is dying of cancer.

November 2016 review by Carol Bernardi.