I love my grandma by Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd (Disney/Hyperion, $16.99, 32 pages)
The relationship between a granddaughter and grandmother is cheerfully and joyously explored in I love my grandma by writer Giles Andreae and illustrator Emma Dodd. The story’s text is easy for a child to understand: “We play all sorts of funny games, and give each other silly names. We really love to cook and bake, and eat the yummy things we make.” It’s clear that in their interactions, grandma gets to act childlike, while granddaughter has fun pretending to be mature.
Animals and toys are featured on nearly every page, which helps young reader-listeners relax. And it’s made clear that a grandchild is a source of pride for a grandparent. What’s also made clear – in a gentle way – is that even the most loving and nurturing of grandmas can welcome the rest that comes at the end of a visit: “When it’s time to say good-bye, my grandma gives a little sigh… And says, although we’ve had such fun, it’s nice to give me back to mom.”
The bright and highly colorful illustrations by Dodd are the icing on the kid’s cake. I love my grandma was given the perfect endorsement by our own granddaughter who said, “I love this book!”
A review copy was received by the publisher.
This book is recommended for children ages 2 through 6.
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.
Good Night, Mouse! by Jed Henry (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16.99, 32 pages)
Some children’s storybooks rely on clever illustrations to capture their audience and others rely on rhymes. Jed Henry’s adorable picture book, Good Night, Mouse!, gently brings his audience into a softly illustrated tale of Mouse, a fellow who can’t fall asleep. The characters, all of whom are friends of Mouse, take turns using their own method of falling asleep while encouraging Mouse to drift off to sleep.
The book is not too big and not too small. It is right-sized for cuddling on a downturned comforter. The wording is a blend of beautiful and caring sounds. Rabbit says, “I know how to wear him out. Tripping, skipping, tired tumbling. Good night, Mouse!” Noting that Mouse has become all wound up in Rabbit’s jump rope, Frog suggests, “A bath will soothe his weary bones.”
And so it goes, as each of Mouse’s many friends take a turn at putting him to bed. The book has long been a favorite of this reviewer’s little granddaughter. The book lives at grandma and grandpa’s house. It makes an appearance as the last book to be read before lights out. Funny how it lulls the reader and listener so that by the end of the story everyone is ready to say, “Good night.”
This book is recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8.
Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry is also available.
Tulip Loves Rex by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Sarah Massini (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books, 32 pages, $17.99)
“From the moment she was born, Tulip loved to dance.”
This colorful children’s book charms the reader with illustrations that beautifully capture the engaging text by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Illustrator Sarah Massini uses swaths of soft colors and sparingly-applied dark lines to bring to life the little girl Tulip and Rex – a doggie she meets in the park.
Tulip expresses her joy by twirling and whirling from early morning until bedtime. Her parents are amazed by their daughter. One day the three of them go for a walk to the park. In the park Tulip sees a big yellow dog with a red tag hanging from his collar announcing that his name is Rex and that he is not like other dogs.
Rex doesn’t respond when Tulip tries playing the usual games that dogs respond to like fetch and tag. She tells him that it’s fine if he is not like other dogs. Tulip then dances and twirls around the grass. Rex joins her with much enthusiasm, matching her moves with his own version of dancing.
When it’s time to go home, Tulip makes a discovery. Rex needs a home. Can you guess what happens next?
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
This book – which will be released on December 23, 2013 – is recommended for children who are in preschool and up to 3rd grade. “Perfect for bedtime and for any child who dances through life or dreams of having a pet as a best friend.” Amazon
A review of the children’s book, Tulip Loves Rex by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Sarah Massini.
Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 29 pages)
Little Woodpecker is learning to peck. Once he starts, he just can’t stop!
Fans of Lucy Cousin’s colorfully illustrated children’s action books, especially the Masey series, will delight in Peck, Peck, Peck. A young woodpecker is kindly prompted by its father to pursue his natural vocation, pecking a tree. After warm and enthusiastic encouragement from daddy, the little woodpecker proceeds to practice on everything he finds, including a gate, a blue front door and nearly the entire contents of the house inside!
Following the Lucy Cousins tradition, the book pages are ready for her little reader’s fingers. This time even the cover is part of the action. Holes created by the woodpecker are strategically placed to follow the text. The book resembles Swiss cheese!
Does this sort of playful encouragement engage the adult reader and her small avid listener? You bet. This reviewer’s granddaughter insisted on having the book read aloud to her three times before she said it was OK to move on to another story. Unlike the Masey books, there’s no chance for torn action tabs which is a big plus.
This book was purchased by the reviewer.
Coming up next, a review of Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins.
No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Ridge (Candlewick Press, 32 pages, $15.99)
This is a novel children’s book written by Meg McKinlay, and illustrated by Leila Ridge. It’s about a girl named Ella. Ella loves books but is tired of reading stories that are filled with bears. As she says, “I’m tired of bears. Every time you read a book, it’s just BEARS BEARS BEARS…” So she designs a story with pretty things, a princess, a castle, a monster and a giant. Oh, and also a fairy godmother with magical powers that might be needed to save the princess from the monster.
This 32-page Candlewick Press book is wonderfully illustrated, and throws in a lot of cool, sneaky references to well-known children’s tales (young readers will have fun discovering such things as the Owl and the Pussycat). It’s a great early reader because it includes standard phrases such as Once upon a time, Happily ever after, and The End. And it’s relaxing and unique especially because there are said to be NO BEARS in it. Not even one!
Written for readers aged 3 and up, and a few bright 2-year-olds. Toddlers who love animals will appreciate it; especially as they find that there are actually a few loveable bears hidden in its pages.