Monday, February 12, 2024

Winter Reading 2024 Wren

 


Imagine a house where there is never any peace and quiet. Brothers and sisters "stamping and stomping and screeching." Traffic going by "rumbling and bumbling." All the noise of doors, dishes, and dogs. "And parents talking - on and on and on." For a quiet child like Wren there doesn't seem to be any escape from all the racket. When a new baby sister arrives and cries nonstop, it is the last straw. "She was louder than a train and wailed for longer than a fire engine." Who wouldn't want to escape from all that? Wren goes to stay with his grandparents and soak up the peace and quiet. Yet, as often happens, when someone gets what they have been longing for, it is not as satisfying as had been hoped.

Vibrant illustrations match the amount of noise being produced. Sister beats on a drum, brothers play at pirates, Mom's radio blares in the garden, cars honk their horns. cymbals clash, Dad and a neighbor gossip over the fence. Is there no place where a child can escape from the constant cacophony? When the new baby arrives, her cries of "WAHHHHH" leave her mouth and wrap around everyone and everything on page after page. Even when Wren tries sleeping in a tent in the backyard the cries drift out into the yard, too. By comparison the yard at Grandpa and Gram's house is practically silent. Wren is shown relaxing on a blanket and gazing up at the clouds as they float silently overhead. Bit by bit the quiet begins to pall and Wren misses the sounds of home.

The best scene of all (to me) is when Wren at last holds the new baby and she smiles and falls asleep. "Perhaps all she wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet. Just like him." In a house full of noisy family and pets, it feels right that Wren finally has someone who doesn't want all the hullaballoo, just like him. Perfect for the child who is sensitive to noise, or a bit more withdrawn than their siblings or classmates. Everyone doesn't have to be alike to have their place in the group and something important to contribute.

Winter Reading 2024 Seeking an Aurora

 


A father awakens his young child and they bundle up warmly to set "off to find an aurora." The two of them quietly leave Mom and baby sister sleeping and slip out of the house. "Is it scary?" the child asks. Maybe the moon or stars are a part of it? When the phenomenon finally appears, the child's "eyes popped as wide wings of light flew over the sky." Lovely illustrations using soft pastels capture the dark of the night, "the warm, buttery light spilling from the kitchen window," and the glorious sweep of color from the aurora. An amazing spread shows the aurora with the descriptive text following the curves of color and the line of the hills in the distance. The word count on each page is not large, but the phrases used are just right to capture the sense of curiosity and wonder, as well as the way usual objects seem unusual at night. The "cows looked like prehistoric creatures" and the child's "breath huffed like little ghosts." Although the father had not talked much on the way out, on the way back to the house he told "everything he knew about the Aurora." A final page after the story explains to the reader "Everything Dad Knew About the Aurora" - the scientific explanation for what causes the phenomenon.

This story reminds me of Owl Moon or the more recent Night Owl Night, with their sense of a parent sharing something almost magical about the natural word with a child. They each have their own style of narrative and illustration, but that nighttime adventure and shared experience are very similar. It would be good to make a text set of these and other books about exploring the natural world together. Children who have a fascination with what they can observe in the sky will also find it entertaining to explore. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Winter Reading 2024 The Pocket Chaotic

 


Anyone who has ever tried to help a young child separate a bit from mom and move into their own room will appreciate the humor in The Pocket Chaotic. Alexander spends most of his time in his mother's pocket. "It was cosy and warm, and it smelled so reassuringly of Mum." But he isn't thrilled with all the junk she drops in her pocket - receipts, her phone, his sister's old gym shorts. Sister Elly points out that she moved out of Mum's pocket when she was much younger than Alexander is now. Instead of taking the hint, Alexander tries to offer Mum some advice. Maybe she could be more organized, or carry a briefcase? He tries to keep all the stuff under control, but she just drops in more. The day she throws in a half-eaten banana is the last straw. The illustration shows Alexander neck deep in a pile of junk with the banana balanced on his head. A HALF. EATEN. BANANA.

Readers will not be at all surprised to see on the next page that he leaves the pocket and moves into a bedroom in the house. Mum gives him a blanket to make the bed cosy and her old scarf that smelled "Mum-like and reassuring." When Alexander finally snuggles into the bed, he has emptied all the shelves in his room and the bedspread is just as covered with stuff as Mum's pocket was at the beginning of the story. Mum and Elly smile from the doorway as he drifts off to sleep. A final illustration shows Mum putting all the junk in the trash bin as she winks at the reader.

This would be a fun book to read along with Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne and H.A. Rey and then compare the situations of Freddy and Alexander and their mothers.

Winter Reading 2024 Wildflower

 


"Daisy had just bloomed, and it felt good to open her petals and turn to the sun." That seems like a positive place to start a story. But then the other flowers all tell her that she is a weed and doesn't belong. As each one brags about their own usefulness or beauty, Daisy droops a little more. But when she meets sweeet pea, blackberry, and other plants that also are called weeds, she learns that they all have something to offer as well. When she hears Rose complaining that a weed is in her sunshine, Daisy points out, "There is more than enough sunshine for everyone."

Back matter includes a gardener's glossary of some terms used in the book, as well as an author's note about possible benefits of so-called weeds. Visit the Greystone Kids website to download a helpful guide for parents and teachers to use with the book. While the story may be taken at face value as a discussion of garden plants and whether wildflowers are actually weeds, it can also be used for lessons on acceptance and valuing others. Imagine pairing it with Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Daisy and Chrysanthemum both wilt and droop when they are belittled, but bloom when they are appreciated. Don't we all?

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Virtual Book Tour Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones

 

Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones: Book Giveaway

 ABOUT THE BOOK

Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Written by Sherry Ellis

Ages 8+ | 104 Pages

Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press | ISBN-13: 9781939844989

Publisher’s Book Summary: Bubba and Squirt are back for another rousing quest as they travel through the mysterious vortex to Paris, France. It’s another wild adventure as they track down art thieves, encounter terrifying monsters, and discover the whereabouts of their missing father.

Will they make it out alive or join the rest of the skeletons in the City of Bones?

Coming Soon: The fourth book in the series, Bubba and Squirt’s Shield of Athena, will be released on May 7, 2024, and the final book, Bubba and Squirt’s Legend of the Lost Pearl, will be released in September 2024.

PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Bookshop.org


MY REVIEW


Bubba and Squirt can’t seem to stay home and live an adventure-free life. First they discover that you can dig a hole to China, if you have a magic shovel (Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China). Another trip through the portal hidden in their backyard lands them in Belize (Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure). And this time they emerge from their trip and find they are in the catacombs of Paris. Luckily they meet two kids, Jacques and Simone, who speak English and help them find their way around the city. The reason for this trip is a dream Bubba had about finding their missing father. Dad disappeared while performing an underwater escape trick and hasn’t been seen for a week. While magicians do sometimes disappear, they generally reappear, so the concern is understandable. Bubba convinces Squirt his dream may lead them to Dad, or at least clues to his whereabouts. The dream featured a painting. But how can they narrow down where to look for an art-related clue in a city as full of museums and artists as Paris? Along with all the dangers and intrigues they encounter during these adventures, there are also the amazing sights of other lands and the familiar bickering between siblings. In this title they see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Tuileries Gardens among other famous landmarks. Back matter includes more information about the catacombs and art thieves, as well as a glossary of French words, a map, a bibliography, and even a recipe for crepes. For readers who enjoy learning about places around the world while rooting for heroes to defeat villains, this would be a good place to start.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis has previously published Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China; Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure; Don’t Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN; and That Mama is a Grouch. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information about her work, she invites you to visit her website at www.sherryellis.org.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The Children’s Book Review

Book Tour Kick-Off

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

icefairy’s Treasure Chest

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Momma Spot

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Friday, January 19, 2024

Life Is What It’s Called

Author Interview with Sherry Ellis

Monday, January 22, 2024

Crafty Moms Share

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

An article by Sherry Ellis

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Barbara Ann Mojica

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Thursday, January 24, 2024

A Blue Box Full of Books

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones and Little Free Library Drop

Friday, January 25, 2024

One More Exclamation

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Fairview Review

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Country Mamas with Kids

Book Review of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Twirling Book Princess

Book Spotlight of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones

Thursday, February 8, 2024

My Reading Getaway

Author Interview with Sherry Ellis

Friday, February 9, 2024

Cover Lover Book Review

Author Interview with Sherry Ellis

This post is sponsored by Sherry Ellis. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Winter Reading 2024 Butt or Face? Volume 2: Revenge of the Butts


Part guessing game, part nonfiction animal book, all fun! If you haven't yet had the pleasure of trying to identify whether you are looking at the front or back end of the animals in the original Butt or Face, then please do so. Even if you have already worked your way through those amazing animals and their difficult to figure out heads and heinies, there are plenty more animal mysteries in store. And if you know a youngster who was head over tails in love with the first book - you must get them the second one!

For all those doubters who said it couldn't be done, Kari Lavelle has put together a book full of even more intriguing animals and their amazing faces and fundaments. Each creature is shown first in a close-up that could be either its face or its butt. Readers must guess, then turn the page to see if they were correct. The answer page has a photo that shows a more wide-screen view of the animal  along with text that tells the name of the animal and a few details about it. Sidebars labeled "Face the Facts" or "Beyond the Backside" offer even more information about the animal and its various body parts. 

This book is perfect for young animal lovers, kiddos who enjoy guessing games, classes studying animals, or caregivers looking for a book to get a child interested in reading. Who could resist finding out that a giraffe's "patootie provides a perfect place for a power nap," or that there is such a creature as an alien butt spider? The author's note explains the inspiration behind these amazing books. 

This book is due to hit the shelves April 2nd, so mark your calendars!

Winter Reading 2024 Come Again, Pelican

 


If anyone else has recently been stuck in the house for days by snow and ice, then they may also enjoy this refreshing glimpse of a simple seaside vacation. Ty (seen here on the cover) and his family bring their trailer to the same spot on the beach each summer. This year he is old enough to try and catch his first fish. He pulls on his new red wading boots and sets off as his parents set up their campsite. Ty greets his friend the pelican who is resting on the same post as when Ty saw him last summer.

The illustrations capture the warm colors of the sand and sun, the cool blue of the water, and the open expanse of the sky over the waves. Scenes show Toby sprinting along after a line of sandpipers with their "speedy legs" scissoring back and forth, or his pelican friend diving "beak first" into the waves to scoop up a fish. Readers will be as dismayed as Toby when they see his new boots carried off by the rising tide. A look underwater shows fish and crabs gathered curiously around one of the lost boots.

Originally published in 1961, this classic from the creator of Corduroy has been restored and will be released on May 7, 2024 - just in time for summer vacation. The elements of the story are timeless - kids, fishing, summer at the beach with family, camping out, and being warned not to lose a new article of clothing - and the story and illustrations have held up remarkably well. Young readers today will enjoy this glimpse into learning a new skill, revisiting a favorite place, and enjoying a day in nature.