Book review: Big and Little: A Story of Opposites, by Cheryl Pilgrim

Pilgrim, Cheryl. Big and Little: A Story of Opposites. Holiday House, April 2019. 32 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 9780823440214. Ages 3-6. P7Q7

This brightly illustrated story of two dogs (one big and one little) having fun illustrates the concept of opposites in a simple format. There are 30 paired opposite words illustrated with fun and bright colors in these dogs’ world. Most of the opposites are very basic, such as up and down, in and out, under and over. There were a couple of more complicated opposites such as timid and bold that were not as clearly depicted. But generally, it is a fun and simple book that is light and easy.

VERDICT: This successfully explores a fun day with two expressive dogs showing young children about opposites. I enjoyed the bright colors and light tone, but wondered at mixing the more basic opposites with a couple of more complicated ones that I didn’t feel really came across well in the drawings. But part of the fun of reading this one aloud would be to expand and play with the ideas, so I feel it is a worthwhile addition to the basic reading of easy concepts for young children.

April 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

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Book review: Grow! Raise! Catch!: How We Get Our Food, by Shelley Rotner

Rotner, Shelley. Grow! Raise! Catch!: How We Get Our Food. Holiday House, 2016. 32 pgs. $16.95. ISBN 9780823436439. Ages 4+. P9Q8

This non-fiction colorful photographic bounty describes fork to table descriptions, with appropriate vocabulary and interesting facts, including a wide variety of farmers and fisherman. Excellent short descriptions of what each product is and a fun fact about the area are included. (Did you know cows return to the barn in the same order?). In the back there is a glossary of all the terms used in the book, and I enjoyed that they included all ages and cultures to describe various farms.

VERDICT: Juvenile readers will very much enjoy this entire book, and as an adult, I learned a few things, too! The photos are chosen to entice us into the process, with very accessible text. I very much recommend this book.

April 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Farmer, by Ximo Abadia, translated by Grace Maccarone

Abadia, Ximo. The Farmer. Holiday House, 2019. Translated by Grace Maccarone. $17.99. ISBN 9780823441587.  Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P6Q7

Paul is a farmer. And like most farmers, he never rests. He is working from dawn until dusk, and when the rain doesn’t come, he despairs for his crops. The rain does come, though, and all is well. I really enjoyed this odd book. The text is simple and spare, and the illustrations seem childlike at first, but they actually have a lot of humor in them (especially the mole holes that have moles, and as the book progresses, we see Pauls in the holes too- keeping watch over his farm) and are quite clever. The spread with the huge orange sun beating down on the poor seedlings makes a big impression. Originally published in French in 2017.

VERDICT: This book would be a good story about farm life to read to a child who likes to look closely at details.

May 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: I’m Done!, by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellen, illustrated by Catherine Lazar Odell

McLellen, Gretchen Brandenburg. I’m done! Illustrated by Catherine Lazar Odell. Holiday House, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780823437054. Unpaged. Ages 4-7. P7 Q7

Perseverance is the key to getting things done. Little Beaver carries a twig to the stream and shouts, “I’m done!” Little Beaver runs off to play with his friends. Papa slaps his tail and tells Little Beaver he is not done yet. Beaver quickly finishes each task he is assigned and each time, his parent’s respond, “not yet.” When Little Beavers friends ask him to play, he responds, “not yet!” and his friends help him finish building the dam. Illustrations show Little Beaver as he makes the dam and as his friends help him finish it. It is realistic to how beavers make a dam.

Verdict: Children will relate to Little Beaver as he thinks he is done, but still has more to do. Children will learn the process that beavers go through to build a dam, while waiting for Little Beaver to finally finish so he can have fun with his friends. The theme of perseverance and team work shines through. This book helps facilitate a conversation about why it is important to finish what you start and how working together gets things done faster.

February 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes?, by Vicky Shiefman, illustrated by Francesca Chessa

Shiefman, Vicky. Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes? Illustrated by Francesca Chessa. Holiday House, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9780823438648. Unpaged. Ages 2-5. P8 Q8

Who has wiggle waggle toes, knockabout knees, out-there elbows, and peekaboo hands? I do! Shiefman takes the reader on a journey exploring their energetic body parts, encouraging fun, interaction and movement. Colorful illustrations include children from all ethnic backgrounds, a child in an oversized cartoon wheelchair, children dressed up in costumes, stomping in the rain, and smiling children holding umbrellas. The illustrations evoke imagination and exploration. Whether read aloud to children or read as a one on one, this book will build bonds with the reader and child. This is the fifth book Shiefman, who was a public-school teacher, has written. Chessa, who lives in Italy, is an award-willing illustrator of more than forty children’s books.

Verdict: This read aloud will encourage toddlers to wiggle and move while learning at the same time. Children will learn self-regulation and focus while having fun. This book will bring a smile to a child’s face and children will want to read it over and over. I highly recommend this book for young children.

February 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: I Like My Car, by Michael Robertson

Robertson, Michael. I Like My Car. Holiday House Publishing, 2018. $15.99. ISBN 9780823439515. Unpaged. Ages 4-6. P6 Q7

Full of colorful, large illustrations, and repetitious text, “I like my __ car.” Each page shows a whimsical animal in an oversized car. There is a large amount of space around the text so it stands out. Readers can look at the color of the car to help them decode the text if needed. Arrows on signs show the directions the cars are traveling. On the last page, all the cars and animal drivers are included. Glossy pages with many different colors makes reading fun. In the I like to read series.  Guided B reading level, which is K-1. End pages have colorful, cartoon type car related illustrations.

Vedict: For children who are learning to read and who like cars, this book is fun. Since the book is repetitious, adult readers may tire of the book quickly. It is meant for children as they are learning to read.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, by Carla Killough McClafferty

McClafferty, Carla Killough. Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Holiday House, 2018. $24.99. 158p. ISBN 978-0-8234-3697-2. Ages 10-14. P5Q9

“The father of his country” who “led the fight for American freedom” owned ten slaves when he was only eleven years old and didn’t free any of the 123 slaves that he personally owned during his lifetime. McClafferty describes the lives of and experiences of six: William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Caroline Branham, Peter Hardiman, Ona Maria (Oney) Judge, and Hercules. They cared for Washington and his wife, Martha, sewed their clothes, made shoes, fought in the Revolutionary War, guarded his papers, and cooked for the hundreds of guests. The book finishes with the search for unmarked graves of slaves on the grounds of Mount Vernon, Washington’s home.

Verdict: This thought-provoking and meticulously research view of a usually ignored part of American history points out the ways that slaves and indentured servants eased the lives of their owners, who would go to any lengths to keep them enslaved. The archeological reclamation adds to the chapters about the six slaves along with drawings, maps, and documents. Oney Judge was featured in two recommended fictional books for young people, Ann Rinaldi’s Taking Liberty and Emily Arnold McCully’s The Escape of Oney Judge.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.