Book review: If I Could Drive, Mama, by Cari Best, illustrated by Simone Shin

Best, Cari. If I Could Drive, Mama. Illustrated by Simone Shin. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9780374302054. Unpaged.  Ages 4-10. P8 Q7.

Charlie takes his mom on an amazing adventure in his cardboard box car.  Although they never leave home, they are able to pretend and have a wonderful time.  The child tells the mother what to say which is typical of a small child when pretending and telling others what to do. End pages show the path where the cardboard box car drives in the story.

Verdict: This is a great read aloud for parents and children to help spark imagination and play.  Hopefully, parents will read it with their child and then have their own adventures together.

November 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Niko Draws a Feeling, by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin

Raczka, Bob. Illustrated by Simone Shin. Niko Draws a Feeling. Carolrhoda Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781467798433. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8  

How do you draw the sound of the ice cream truck’s bell? How do you capture the feeling of loneliness in two dimensions? Niko, the title character in Niko Draws a Feeling, expresses himself and his experiences by drawing them. His drawings aren’t representational or typical. As a result, his art is often misunderstood by his peers, his teachers, and even his parents. Will he ever meet someone who appreciates his particular abstraction? Niko’s feeling of being misunderstood is common and relatable. Even young readers who cannot sympathize with his interest in art, will recognize his frustration at being questioned about something that, to him, is beyond obvious. Energetic crayon coils are scribbled over the book’s mixed media illustrations. These colorful tornados represent Niko’s emotions in the same style of his drawings.

Verdict: This sensitive book is an appropriate addition to the public library and classroom. It’s hard to be a kid. Niko Draws a Feeling discusses the necessity of having peers who understand and value our individuality.

May 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle, by Jude Isabella, illustrated by Simone Shin

Isabella, Jude. Illustrated by Simone Shin. The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle. Kids Can Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-77138-023-2. $18.95. Grades K-3. P8 Q9.

Isabella Red BicycleHard work and generosity are the stars of the tale of “Big Red” a bicycle that has many lives. From Leo in America who worked hard to earn enough to buy it, to Alisetta in Burkina Faso, inAfrica, who uses it to earn more money for her family, and finally to Haridata as it becomes an ambulance for transporting patients. This story tells the importance of bicycles in other parts of the world. In some places they are the only form of transportation available. Further information includes, What can you do to help?, A Note for Parents and Teachers – with teaching ideas, as well as information about Burkina Faso (the West African Country where this story takes place).

January 2016 review by Patty Dodson.