Book review: Mr. Putter & Tabby Hit the Slope, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard

Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter & Tabby Hit the Slope. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. (Mr. Putter and Tabby series, #25) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. Unpaged. $14.99. ISBN 9780152064273. Ages 5-7. P7Q8

On a slow, snowy day, Mr. Putter remembers the long ago fun of sledding down hills. The adventurous neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, has sleds in her garage. Mr. Putter, Tabby, Mrs. Teaberry and her dog, Zeke, head out for an adventure, riding sleds down hills in this twenty-fifth book in the series.  Much of the charm of the long-running series comes from the simple watercolor and goache paintings that show the varied emotions of the characters—Mr. Putter’s sadness in being left without a sled, Tabby’s worried terror  as Zeke pilots the two of them down the hill, the contentment on both Mr. Putter’s and Tabby’s faces as they have muffins afterward.

Verdict: Highly recommended for preschool, elementary, and public libraries.

January 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Frogkisser!, by Garth Nix

Nix, Garth.  Frogkisser! Audible Audio Edition. Listening Library, 2017. $19.25. 11 hrs 6 min. Ages 10-13. P8Q8

Although my favorite Garth Nix books are the darker YA Abhorson series, I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous fairy tale. Spunky Anya is the younger princess of the kingdom of Trallonia. Her evil stepstepfather is a tyrant sorcerer who “transmogrifies” anyone who bothers him- that is, he turns them into frogs or other animals. Anya prefers to read in the library, but to help her sister and to escape from her stepstepfather, she reluctantly sets out on a quest to gather the ingredients for a magical lip balm that will allow her to kiss a frog (one of her sister’s suitors) and restore him to his human form. She is accompanied by one of the royal talking dogs and a want-to-be thief boy who has been turned into a newt. She finds diverse help along the way (though she says she won’t need help, because she’s not that kind of a princess), and learns some good lessons. I liked that while this was a light children’s story, there were some serious themes like how sometimes we don’t want to do something, but we must help when we can, that people have rights and responsibilities, and that being a leader means thinking about what is good for the people before doing what you want for yourself.

April 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

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.

Book review: This Book Is Not About Dragons, by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Fred Koehler

Thomas, Shelley Moore. This Book is Not About Dragons. Illustrated by Fred Koehler. Boyds Mills Press, 2016. $16.95. ISBN 9781629791685. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P7Q7

Throughout this story, Mouse insists that there are no dragons around, and that this book is not about dragons! However, the reader can clearly see shadows, silhouettes, smoke, and other signs of dragons as mouse roams around, insisting that, It is not a dragon. It’s a moose! Or a Pizza! Or something else… But at the end, Mouse has to admit that there are dragons, and changes the name of the book. The humorous, digitally assembled illustrations are cleverly put together from photographs of crumpled and burnt paper, and digital drawings. It is noted that no mice or dragons were harmed in the making of this book.

VERDICT: Young readers will easily find the humor in this book. It would work well as a read aloud, with the kids pointing out the dragons they see.

April 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Bad Kitty Takes the Test, by Nick Bruel

Bruel, Nick.  Bad Kitty Takes the Test. (Bad Kitty series) Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $13.99. ISBN 978-1-62672-589-8. 144 pages. Ages 7-12. P7Q8

Bad Kitty is sent to take a test to prove that he has what it takes to be called a cat. What follows is calamity and hilarity as Bad Kitty, Chatty Kitty and Uncle Murray, a human who stumbles in by accident while looking to renew his driver’s license, learn what it is to be a cat. When they complete their lessons from Strange Kitty, they learn they must take a test. The test is to be administered by a representative from TestPro, who isn’t exactly an honest test monitor, and he might just have a secret agenda. TestPro is repeatedly reversed by the narrator to ProTest. This is a funny tale that will help any youngster through testing season. I appreciated the fun illustrations and the funny puns and innuendos.

Verdict: this is an engaging chapter book for independent readers.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey

Pilkey, Dav. Dog Man Unleashed. (Dog Man series, #2) Scholastic, 2017. $9.99. ISBN 9780545935203. 220 pages. Ages 7-11. P9 Q9

This graphic novel features a half man and half police dog who solves crimes. Written in a simple child-like format, the story is fun and easy to follow.  Kids love the humor and silliness of the character and the graphic book format.  Throughout the book Flip-O-Rama pages allow a reader to go between pages to make the pictures appear animated.  A “How to Draw” the characters section is included at the end of the book for readers to learn to draw on their own.  Also, the last pages promote an app and other novels by Dav Pilkey.

Verdict: It is a favorite of children as it is written in a child- (4-5th grader writing) and cartoon-like fashion.  The ridiculousness makes the humor understandable to even the young readers and a fun book to have in your library.

May 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Elmer and Aunt Zelda, by David McKee

McKee, David. Elmer and Aunt Zelda. Anderson Press USA, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781512439458. Unpaged. Ages 4-9.  P8 Q7

The patchwork colored elephant Elmer and his cousin Wilbur visit their aging Aunt Zelda.  She is going deaf so when she replies to Elmer sometimes it does not make sense.  This concept will have to be clearly explained to the younger audience and reader as to why the Aunt Zelda asks such silly questions.  It seemed that the author changed the last few words of what was said by Elmer to how the deaf Aunt Zelda responses and asks her question.  Then there are a few pages in which the conversation is normal.

Verdict: The colorful illustrations will attract young readers; however, for full comprehension of the dialogue, the reader needs to clearly understand Aunt Zelda being deaf.

May 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

[Editor’s note: In this thirteenth book featuring Elmer the patchwork elephant, he and his cousin Wilbur visit their elderly Aunt Zelda.  Children will enjoy the obvious affection between the aunt and cousins, as well as the funny conversation caused by Aunt Zelda’s difficulty in hearing.]