Book review: How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets?, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

In Jane Yolen’s 10th dinosaur series book, the dinosaurs choose pets. What I would have done for a book like this when my own children wanted a pet! This book would have answered all those “but why” questions. The antics of the different and very colorful dinosaurs will have children laughing as they learn that not all pets are suitable for them. This is the 4th book that I have read in the series and I find this one just as delightful as the others.

Verdict: A great source to read and then have a discussion on pets, animal care and when it right to get a pet.

April 2017 review by Carol Bernardi.

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: My favorite pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s class, by Jeanne Birdsall, pictures by Harry Bliss

Birdsall, Jeanne. My favorite pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s class. Pictures by Harry Bliss. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. Unpaged. $16.99. ISBN 9780385755702. Ages 5-7. P8Q8

Gus’s school report on his 17 pet sheep gives more information on Gus, his family, and Gus’s pranks than it does on actual sheep.  The deadpan handwritten report, combined with bright, realistic watercolor and ink illustrations, quickly moves from humorous to hilarious as it shows the relationships between Gus and the sheep, Gus’s younger brother, and his parents, as one disaster follows another.

Verdict: This picture book works for both story time and for one-to-one reading aloud.  Highly recommended for kindergarten, elementary and public libraries.

November 2016 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone . . . While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!, by Emily Arnold McCully

McCully, Emily Arnold. Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone . . . While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent! Schwartz & Wade, 2016. $17.99. 48p. ISBN 978-0-5535-2246-4. Ages 5-8. P9Q9

mccully-claraA rhinoceros is an odd pet, but Captain Van der Meer brought back one-year-old Clara from India in 1741. He showed her off throughout Europe and managed to keep her for 17 years until Clara’s death by raising money for her appearances. Readers share in the travels throughout the continent when the Prussian king gives money for her care, the French king rejects the captain because he won’t donate Clara to his home at Versailles, and Clara inspires artists and hairdressers in Paris. McCully points out in her closing note that this confinement and exhibition can be considered cruel treatment, but it was the only way that people could see a “mythical beast” before the advent of photography and zoos. Elegant ink and watercolor illustrations picture Clara both in lovable youth and in gentle age—still lovable, and endpapers follow the duo’s journeys across land and sea.

Fall 2016 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Mantchev, Lisa. Strictly No Elephants. Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. $17.99. ISBN 9781481416474. Ages 4-8. P8Q8

Mantchev Strictly No ElephantsWhen a boy takes his tiny elephant to a Pet Club meeting and is turned away because elephants are strictly prohibited, he finds some other “outcast” friends in the same situation- kids with skunks, bats, and giraffes for pets. They form their own pet club that welcomes everyone. This book is quiet and sweet, and talks about how to be a good friend. Underlying this is the theme of inclusiveness, and shows how it feels to be excluded when you don’t fit into a narrow, specific mold. Korean illustrator Taeeun Yoo’s warm, mixed media illustrations are gentle and comforting.

May 2016 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Ruffleclaw, by Cornelia Funke

Funke, Cornelia. Ruffleclaw. Random House, 2015. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-385-37548-1. 102 pages. Ages 7-10. P7Q6.

Funke RuffleclawRuffleclaw is a furry monster who lives in a burrow under a toolshed. He eats bugs, grubs, and earthworms while fancying cakes, shampoo, and tea.  He decides to move in with a family of humans.  Tommy wants to keep Ruffleclaw as a pet, but will Ruffleclaw and his parents allow it? Ruffleclaw makes huge messes–he spits, hisses, burps, and Tommy’s father has allergies! Can Tommy teach his monster manners? Will Ruffleclaw prefer to return to his worms, bugs, and burrows?

February 2016 review by Penny McDermott.


[Editor’s note: Originally published in 2005 in German under the title, Zottelkralle.  Veteran author Cornelia Funke brings gross humor and an unlikely monster-hero to Ruffleclaw,  in a story more likely to appeal to 5-to 7-year-old children than to the adults in their lives.]

Book review: Land Shark, by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Ben Mantle

Ferry, Beth. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. Land Shark. Chronicle Books, 2015. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-2458-2. Unp. Ages 1-4. P7 Q 8

Ferry Land SharkBobby wanted a shark for his birthday, not just a tiny shark in an aquarium but a big shark. He was not so happy with his surprise of a puppy. His brother and sister laughed at him and told him he was silly thinking he was getting a pet shark. He declared that shark lovers cannot be converted to dog lovers ever. The puppy started destroying everything in the house and barking and Bobby didn’t want to have anything to do with her. Everyone was grumpy but Bobby was happy because he thought he would finally get his shark. But then the puppy chomped his stuffed animal shark right in two and everyone was worried. In the end Bobby became a dog lover as the puppy had chewed her way into his heart. This is a funny story about wanting wild things for birthdays and actually falling in love with the thing you get for your present.

December 2015 review by Melinda Dye.