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.
A review of the children’s book No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Ridge.
Homer The Cat by Reeve Lindbergh, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 32 pages)
Any child that lives with an indoor cat is likely to both love and identify with this story of Homer the cat. Homer’s a contented feline… Although he does not go outdoors, he’s got toys to play with and birds to watch and is well fed by a nice, quiet lady who lives in a quiet house. Then one day, as the quiet lady is off at work (at a place unknown to Homer), a window suddenly falls out of its housing and Homer finds himself out in the world. It’s a place that – to his sensitive ears – is loud and frightening, and no matter where he goes in town, he can’t find the “cozy, cat-size space” that he craves.
Homer visits various locations on his unplanned journey, and has a few near-misses with bad consequences before he discovers “a quiet building across a quiet floor.” This turns out to be the public library where his quiet lady owner is reading books aloud to several children. Quiet lady and Homer are ecstatic to see each other, and the children naturally love seeing and petting the great orange cat. So Homer decides to make the library his new second home, a plan approved by the library kids as being “purr-fect!”
This is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, which will make a fine addition to the library of any young reader aged 4 and above. The moral of the rhyming tale (or is that tail?) seems to be that no matter what happens, a splendid place to call home can always be found. This should prove reassuring to any socially nervous young ones.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
A review of The Sniffles for Bear: A Children’s Book by Bonny Becker; illustrated by Karly MacDonald Denton.
Do You Have a Cat? by Eileen Spinelli (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; $16.00; 32 pages)
“A cat who likes to caterwaul is better than no cat at all!”
There’s an old saying that dogs and their owners begin to look like each other. Well, I may be just a kitten but even I know that’s not true just for dogs… And this book, Do You Have a Cat?, proves me to be right. This book shows us – and especially the young humans in the reading audience – that 14 very famous people owned felines (that’s a cat, to you). And, guess what? These famous people looked just like their cats and vice-versa!
If you don’t believe me, just look at the swell drawings in this book. You’ll see that everyone from Cleopatra to Queen Victoria and Charles Lindbergh and Albert Schweitzer and President Calvin Coolidge owned very special cats, all of whom just happened to be the spitting-image of their home owners! And you’ll learn some very cool stuff, too, like the fact that President Coolidge went on the radio to tell the folks when his cat was lost. Luckily, for Cal, Tiger was soon found and returned to the White House!
So, I’m a young cat but I know good books. This one’s as good as a bowl of half-and-half!
Sasha (the kitten) Arellano
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Geraldo Valerio is the illustrator of this children’s book, recommended for ages 4 through 8.
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade; $17.99; 40 pages)
Rocket is the doggie version of a busy child. He’s eager and energetic with a good amount of curiosity when it comes to a story about Buster the dog and the mystery of where a tasty bone was buried. Rocket is gently enticed into learning how to read by a very chipper little yellow bird, whose attitude is very much like this reviewer’s first grade teacher, Miss Thom. The little bird sets up an outdoor classroom for Rocket and he begins with learning the alphabet.
This delightful children’s book demonstrates the value of building knowledge and practicing spelling. Rocket endures a cold, snowy winter by practicing his letters in the snow when the little bird instructor migrates south. Come spring they are back together in the outdoor classroom. Rocket proves himself to be an excellent student and he’ s rewarded with the great joy of reading book after book. His favorite about Buster is read again and again and again. (Joy, joy.)
Well recommended. Woof!
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A copy of the book was purchased for her grandchild. How Rocket Learned to Read is primarily targeted for children between the ages of 3 and 8. (Consider it as a special Christmas present for a little one!)
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.
Little Puppy Says Woof! by Phoebe Dunn (Random House Books for Young Readers, $8.99, 14 pages)
As a cat, I’m not the biggest fan of dogs, but even I know that puppies are adorable! Toddlers will love this story of Charlie the Cocker Spaniel puppy who is adopted by a boy named Tim. We see that Charlie is at first lonely for his brother and sister puppies, but eventually he learns to sleep with a plush stuffed toy dog “brother”. Tim’s a good kid who knows enough to take Charlie to the vet right away for a check-up.
Charlie learns to chase a ball, although he’s not perfect. He does like to chew on house plants and run in piles of freshly raked leaves. But he’s a natural swimmer, so he becomes the furry companion to Tim and his grandpa when they go out on the lake in a rowboat. Charlie’s such a good dog that Tim knows that he and Charlie will be the best of friends forever.
Oh, I forgot to mention that this book comes with a button that can be pressed whenever you want to hear Charlie’s bark. It’s a great feature that may not be appreciated by other cats.
This review was written by Munchy Arellano. Yes, he’s a cat. (Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.)