Sunday, August 2, 2015

Templeton Gets His Wish by Greg Pizzoli -- ADVISABLE

Pizzoli, Greg Templeton Gets His Wish. PICTURE BOOK. Disney-Hyperion, 2015. $16.99. Content: G.

What Templeton wants more than anything is for his family to leave him alone. No more mother making him take a bath. No more father making him clean up his messes. No more brothers taking his toys. So when he sees an advertisement for a magic jewel, he steals his brothers' money and sends off for it. But once he gets his wish, he discovers that life without a family can be quite lonely. And messy. And scary. And very, very stinky.

While the premise is nothing new, many children will sympathize with Templeton's plight, and parents will likely enjoy the sweet ending. The illustrations are colorful and often humorous, and the book itself would make a fun read-aloud, either with an entire class, or one-on-one with a child before bed.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That by Victoria Allenby -- ADVISABLE

 Allenby, Victoria Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, illustrated by Tara Anderson. Pajama Press, 2014. $19.95. Contents: G.

No matter where he is and what hubbub is going on around him, Nat the cat can sleep through it -- until nightfall, of course. Once it's dark, he's got playing to do.

This is an adorable picture book with equally adorable illustrations. The contrast between the sleepy Nat and his playful kitten friend is delightful, and Nat's awkward sleeping positions will likely elicit giggles from cat lovers of all ages.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Whose Shoe? by Eve Bunting -- OPTIONAL

Bunting, Eve Whose Shoe? illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. PICTURE BOOK. Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2015. $16.99. Content: G.

Mouse finds someone's missing shoe, and although he would love to keep it, he knows it's better to return it to its rightful owner. But every animal he asks has different shoe preferences -- and none of those preferences fits this particular shoe.

The illustrations are lovely, and the story has a great message about how finders shouldn't always be keepers unless they're sure the item they've found is truly ready for a new owner. While the rhyming works for the most part, it definitely has a few awkward and/or sing-songy sections. I'm also not fond of the elephant's statement that she prefers to wear very tight high heels because they make her ankles look "trim" and her legs look "really slim." It's one thing if she thinks they are pretty or fancy or fun to walk in, but wearing them simply because they make her look less fat? Hmm. I prefer to wait as long as possible before giving my little girl readers body image issues, thank you very much.

Pre-K, EL (k-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Rodeo Red by Maripat Perkins -- ADVISABLE

Perkins, Maripat Rodeo Red, illustrated by Molly Idle. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, 2015. $16.95. Content: G.

The minute Rodeo Red is introduced to her baby brother, she knows there will be trouble. Sure enough, he adores going into her territory and messing with her stuff. Worst of all, he steals her favorite stuffed animal. Rodeo Red won't stand for it; unfortunately, her parents find her ways of coping less than kind, and she ends up in a timeout -- minus her stuffed dog. Can she win this battle in a way that makes everyone happy?

Rodeo Red is a smart, spunky protagonist. Readers who have ever had to share toys with little siblings will be especially sympathetic to her plight. The book just begs to be read aloud in the reader's very best cowgirl accent, making it tons of fun to share either one-on-one or with a class. While it would be an entertaining anytime read, the abundance of colorful similes and metaphors make it the perfect accompaniment to a lesson on figures of speech and/or creating vivid writing.

EL -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Saturday, August 1, 2015

P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis -- ESSENTIAL

Paschkis, Julie P. Zonka Lays an Egg. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, 2014. $16.95. Content: G.

While P. Zonka's industrious sisters are busy laying boring eggs on a regular basis, this whimsical hen prefers to wander the yard, taking in all the beautiful details around her. Until she's challenged to lay an egg of her own.

This is a gorgeous book that perfectly captures the idea that some things are worth waiting for -- especially true art. Although it could be tied into many areas of the curriculum, P. Zonka Lays an Egg would work especially well in an art or creative writing lesson, to illustrate that creativity often takes time, preparation, observation, and a lot of daydreaming. Picture book or not, it would make a good mini lesson on inspiration for all ages.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn

I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell -- OPTIONAL

Bell, Cece I Yam a Donkey! PICTURE BOOK. Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2015. $16.99. Content: G.

When a grammarian yam tries to correct a poorly speaking donkey, his efforts results in confusion, frustration...and lunch. Moral of the story, straight from the book: "If you is going to be eaten, good grammar don't matter."

I wanted to love this book, but perhaps I'm too curmudgeonly. The illustrations are bold, but they feel a bit repetitive. The premise seems hilarious, but as a read-aloud it's fairly cumbersome. And while it can be annoying to have one's grammar corrected, the ending of the book seemed a tad extreme. Perhaps others will find it more amusing.

EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman -- ADVISABLE

Gaiman, Neil Chu's Day at the Beach, illustrated by Adam Rex. PICTURE BOOK. HarperCollins, 2015. $17.99. Contents: G.

Chu's ginormous sneezes have caused a few mishaps in his life, but when he sneezes at the beach it's more than a mishap. It's a disaster. His giant achoo has parted the ocean -- perhaps permanently. The only way to fix the sea is to sneeze once more, but how's a panda supposed to do that on command? This is a cute tale with an absurdly fun premise and hilarious illustrations. There's lots of room for performing when using it as a read-aloud, making it a crowd-pleaser in the hands of a dramatic teacher, librarian, or parent.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn