How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan; illustrated by Lee Wildish (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 32 pages)
Consider a sleepover at grandma’s house from her granddaughter’s perspective. Rather than grandma running the show, it’s the little girl’s turn. This book is one of a series of “How to…” books written by Jean Reagan. The text is directed at the child with gentle guidance for managing the visit. There are shifts in typeface from purple handwritten lettering to standard black 18-point New Century Schoolbook. The purple lettering focuses on fun and silly sounds to make during activities. The black typeface conveys the directions for what to do in each situation that happens during a sleepover.
Mommy and Daddy make brief appearances in the story at the beginning (drop off) and at the end (pick up). They provide the premise for the story. The rest is pure fun for the lucky grandma and grandddaughter. Having a shift to a child’s list of activities is empowering and a delightful way for grandma to experience the visit. By the way, there is ample coaching for the little girl to let grandma know what to choose. I’m guessing the cute blond pigtailed girl depicted in this book is somewhere around five or six years old.
Grandma is provided her choice of activities – going to the park, singing together and dressing up, to name a few. Making silly faces with food, playing shoe store and dressing as twins were new to this reviewer who happens to be the grandma of a nearly six-year-old blonde who sometimes wears pigtails. When shown the book’s cover during a Face Time visit recently, she immediately identified herself! The doggie in the story is white with black spots, just like my granddaughter’s. The only thing missing is the fluffy brown Maine Coon cat who adores her mistress.
The illustrations by Lee Wildish are bright and cheerful with spot on proportions for the characters in keeping with the drawings of someone who is six or thereabouts. Surprisingly, they were created digitally. Regardless of the method, their fresh, light-hearted quality is a perfect match for the text.
This book was purchased by the reviewer.
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty; illlustrated by Mike Boldt (Doubleday, $16.99, 32 pages)
In the song “I Am… I Said,” Neil Diamond sang: “Did you ever read about a frog/Who dreamed of becoming a king/And then became one?” In the children’s book, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, a young frog dreams of becoming a cat. Or a rabbit. Or a pig. He simply wants to be something “cute and warm.” Anything but a wet slimy frog!
This book is addressed to children between the ages of 3 and 7-years-old who might want to be something a bit different than what they are. The lesson the book provides is that there are trade-offs and dangers in becoming something else. For example, we find out that hungry wolves like to hunt rabbits. But not frogs. Frogs are not very tasty – at least to wolves, so there’s safety in being wet, green and slimy.
Frog was written by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt. They do an excellent job of matching up the words with the drawings. This book should be enjoyed by many young readers, except for those who might become frightened by the big, hungry, predator wolf. It’s better read to the young ones in the daytime, and definitely not right before bedtime.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Ginger and the Mystery Visitor by Charlotte Voake (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 40 pages)
Readers who are familiar with Ginger the cat will be happy that Charlotte Voake’s latest book is the perfect – or purr-fect – companion to Ginger. They are the same size with very similar covers, which makes them a lovely set. The cast of characters has expanded with the introduction of the mystery visitor. The storyline involves a cat who sneaks into Ginger’s house to eat. The tale is short and sweet with a built-in message or two. It offers opportunities for the reader and listener to discuss what can happen when we feed other people’s pets.
The illustrations are charming and full of expression. Clearly, this is a book to be read aloud to young children. Later, it will be a good one for practicing reading skills. Lastly, a grandma or grandpa who is creating a library for the grandchildren can count on Ginger and the Mystery Visitor as a welcome addition.
If we’re lucky, Charlotte Voake will create more books about Ginger. Highly recommended.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.
Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters (Greenwillow Books, 32 pages, $16.99)
People sometimes wonder what it is we cats do all night long. Well, this neat-o book by Lisa Westberg Peters (illustrated by Jennifer Taylor) shows that we keep the household going, doing lots of essential stuff while the lazy humans are asleep. We chase mice, clean counters, empty trash cans, water the yard and call meetings of the Neighborhood Watch Patrol.
Yes, we work while you sleep and if not for cats like Frankie, who knows what a mess you’d wake up to in the morning! This is just a great 32-page book that introduces the young kids to us felines and helps them to learn how to count. OK, so the adults in the household may not appreciate the so-called “ruckus” they claim we make when it’s dark but – as my favorite band the Eagles sing – get over it!
The illustrations are beautiful and do justice to us handsome cats and even the stupid dogs. The end of the story finds Frankie sleeping after taking care of business all night. Let sleeping cats lie is what I say. Oh, and give them plenty of Purina Party Mix Treats. You’d better add this one to the family library.
This review was written by Munchy Arellano, the brown tabby cat. A review copy was received from the publisher. Munchy has received no compensation for his endorsement of Purina Party Mix Cat Treats.
Frankie Works the Night Shift is recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 8.