Tag Archives: children’s book

Book Review: Sky Pig – by Jan L. Coates

 

 

 

 

 

Book: SkyPig
Author: Jan L. Coates
Illustrator: Suzanne Del Rizzo
Publisher: Pajama Press
Date: April 1, 2016 - Canada; September, 2016 - USA
Genre: children's picture book; 4 - 7 yrs; K - 2
Pages: 32
Price: $19.95
My rating: a sweet story of determination and friendship

 

If this book looks familiar to my regular readers, it is because I mentioned it in this blog post last year. 

Here is Jan reading her book at the launch in May of 2016.

 

 

 

SkyPig by Jan L. Coates is a sweet story about friendship and determination. 

Ollie, a little pig, wanted so very much to fly. He watched birds, and airplanes, and bugs, and things being blown in the wind, and he wanted to fly more than anything. His friend Jack, being an inventive boy, did all he could to try to help him attain his dream – even though everybody knows pigs can’t fly.

To launch Ollie airborne they collected leafy branches and fastened them onto his back. They climbed all the way to the top of a very high hill, and Ollie did his very best to fly. Just when he was thinking, “I’m flying! I’m flying, I’m …” Crash! he came down hard, and sadly limped home.

Since that unsuccessful attempt didn’t dampen Ollie’s determination, Jack helped him construct a kite (fail), then wings with feathers and things (fail), and more inventions to try to make Ollie fly. Nothing worked, and nothing made Ollie smile, until the day they discovered something wondrous. 

Illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo created amazing illustrations for Sky Pig. To quote: “The illustrations were rendered with plasticine, polymer clay, paper collage, milkweed fluff, watch gears, and other doodads.”  Take a close look at the cover illustration to see many of those doodads.

Sky Pig was a selection for the 2016 Best Books for Kids & Teens, won the 2017 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for excellence in illustration, and was a finalist for the 2017 Shining Willow Award.

Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates is an inspiring story written with repetition of some phrases and humour children will love. Her word choices are delightful. Suzanne Del Rizzo‘s illustrations are gorgeous and complement the story perfectly. When you get to read this book, watch for two little friends who appear in almost every picture with Ollie and Jack, adding a smile for the reader.

You can find Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and Chapters.Indigo when the book is available there.

Please encourage an author and illustrator by leaving a comment. Thank you.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 

Advertisements

Book Review: Normal Norman – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Normal Norman
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: S.britt
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Genre: children's picture book; age 4 & up; Preschool & up 
Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 40
Price: $14.95
My rating: Funny with lots of encouragement to love 
your differences 

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar is a book about defining the word normal, and in a very funny way.

The narrator of this story is a junior scientist who is narrating for the first time. She wants it to go well, so she introduces Norman. Norman is an orangutan, an average, ordinary, common creature – or so she thinks.

The junior scientist measures him and finds he is normal in size. Then she discovers Norman eating a snack, but he doesn’t eat bananas, he’s eating pizza. When she peels a banana for him he freaks out! He thinks it’s cruel! It gets more and more abnormal from there.

This is a funny story. Children will love that Norman is a purple orangutan who wears eyeglasses, which should have been the first clues to the narrator that Norman is far from being a normal orangutan. Norman also doesn’t want to sleep in a pile of leaves and branches like orangutans do, and he has a favourite stuffed toy.

The junior scientist narrator is distraught. Nothing is going as planned. Then Norman has an idea.

Children will love Tara Lazar‘s ending for Normal Norman. It’s funny and unexpected. The illustrations by S. Britt are fun and fabulous, making Norman a memorable character.

You can find Normal Norman by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Would you like to leave a comment for me, or for the author and/or illustrator?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: When a DRAGON Moves in AGAIN – by Jodi Moore

 

 

 

 


Book: When a DRAGON Moves in AGAIN
Author: Jodi Moore
Illustrator: Howard McWilliam
Publisher: Flashlight Press
Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: children's picture book; K-2; age 5-7
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: a delightfully fun story of a boy, his dragon, 
and somebody new 

 

Because I haven’t yet had opportunity to read When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore, I am starting with her second book, When a DRAGON Moves in AGAIN. It is completely enjoyable without having to read the first book.

Let’s begin with the end pages which used to be simply plain, but that has changed for many books. These are gorgeous, so family focused. Take a peek.

Isn’t that delightful? Family photos are posted on a  bulletin board, including ones capturing the mischievous little boy making faces at the camera. The end pages at the back are different photos.

 

 

 

 

 

As we begin reading When a DRAGON Moves in AGAIN, and having not read the first book, we naturally assume the little boy has already fully developed his imaginary dragon friend. In this story, the boy and his dragon enter a new situation together.

One day the dad builds what his young son believes to be a castle. Of course, if you have a castle you have a place for your dragon. They bounce and play in it until  … the mom says that’s for the baby. Baby? His sister is hoping for a girl, she obviously feels she has enough brothers. 

For a young child, welcoming a new baby into the family is not always an easy transition. When the baby arrives, his big brother is okay with it until Baby cries a lot. He has to be entertained, but Dragon breaks things and makes a mess in the attempt. When Baby is sleeping Dragon wakes him up. It’s then that Dad decides they’ve had enough of dragons, but Big Brother wants Baby sent back. Dragon is not so sure about that.

The illustrations in When a DRAGON Moves in AGAIN are fabulous. Howard McWilliam has captured the emotions and expressions so accurately, with a humorous touch, it’s easy to feel what everyone in the story feels. This is a wonderful story for the whole family.

You can find When a DRAGON moves in AGAIN by Jodi Moore on my BUY THE BOOK page.

I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters.Indigo, and Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Snappsy the Alligator (did not ask to be in this book) – by Julie Falatko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Snappsy the Alligator (did not ask to be in this book)
Author: Julie Falatko
Illustrator: Tim Miller
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: children's picture book; pre-school-3; age 3-8
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99
My rating:  An unusual and amusing story

 

Snappsy the Alligator – Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! is the first picture book written by Julie Falatko.

Snappsy is going along minding his own business, just living his ho-hum life. When he realizes he’s suddenly in a book being narrated about him he objects, to no avail.

Snappsy the Alligator Does Not Want to Be in This Book! – and he really does not want to be in this book! – is presented in a way quite different from the usual method of writing a picture book. Julie Falatko has included a narrator to whom her main character is talking.

If you pay attention to Tim Miller’s funny illustrations in relation to the words you will see that what the narrator is saying is, at first, describing everything Snappsy is doing. Snappsy finds that irritating. The reader can figure out what he’s doing without being told step-by-step, but then the narrator starts saying things that make Snappsy sound mean and adventurous. He also calls Snappsy out on his habits, challenging him to try something different. It’s amusing. And it’s effective because Snappsy does something different to make the narration more interesting. 

This is a funny story children will enjoy once they catch on to what’s happening.

You can find Snappsy the Alligator Does Not Want to Be in This Book! by Julie Falatko on my BUY THE BOOK page.

I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: I Thought This was a Bear Book – by Tara Lazar

 

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: Aladdin
Date: August 2015
Genre: children's; picture book; pre-school - 2; age 4-7 yrs
Pages: 32; hardcover
Price: $17.99 (varies)
My rating: a fun, creative change-up of a familiar fairytale

Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author with an imagination that is intriguing and humorous. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is her second of five books so far, with another one coming out this spring and one in 2018.

In I Thought This Was a Bear Book we meet the bear family – Papa, Mama, and Baby – out berry-picking. Overhead there is an alien spacecraft obviously in trouble and coming in for a landing. Only Baby seems to notice at first.

On those first two pages of the story the words are “Once upon a time there were three bears.” From then on those words are the only ones that are not conversation between the characters in the story, aside from onomatopoeia, such as WHOOSH and THUNK! Also, those two pages are illustrated by Benji Davies to look like the pages of an open book.

Look at what I mean; this is one page, not several.

i-thought-this-was-a-bear-book-page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

Apparently, the alien somehow fell out of his book and landed in theirs! Such a conundrum. He was quite bewildered and when face-to-face with the bear family he was indignant at being called a martian. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” he informed them. They set out to try to find a way to send him back to his own book in time for him to save the planet from giant planet-eating numbers.  See what I mean about Tara’s amazing imagination? I would never have come up with an idea like that. 

This story is quite funny with the prince saying zark, zoot, zinder when he is feeling overwhelmed. A tour bus stops for tourists to take pictures of the bears and the alien, while Prince Zilch and the bears are trying to find a way to get him back to page 27 in his book. Goldilocks even makes her appearance, much to the bears’ dismay. 

There are many ideas they come up with, all the while Baby Bear is trying to get their attention so he can share his idea on how to help. Benji Davies‘ illustrations add so much to the story, some being really funny, and all bright and interesting. As you read you must pay attention to the extra activities going on in the story through the illustrations – just because it’s so much fun.

Tara even includes the reader in helping to solve the prince’s problem, making it an interactive book in that way. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is an entertaining read for which you might want to have a little extra time to enjoy and share with a young reader or pre-reader. There is so much entertainment in the story.

You can find I Thought This Was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: One Plastic Bag – by Miranda Paul

one-plastic-bag

 

 

 

 

 

Book: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling 
Women of the Gambia
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; age 6-9; gr 1-4
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: True story superbly told for children to 
understand its importance

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia was written by Miranda Paul after hearing about this success story and doing extensive research to get it just right.

This is a true story, simplified for the sake of the genre. However, even simplified it is a dramatic and very impressive story of change.

In 1970 Isatou is born in Gambia. She grows up seeing, and then using, plastic bags that seem to be more convenient to use than the handmade baskets she used for carrying things. The problem is the plastic bags, when no longer useful, do not degrade and mix back into the earth like the baskets. They become an unmanageable, unhealthy, dangerous accumulation of garbage in the village and surrounding villages. The plastic bags make it hard for the villagers’ gardens to produce, they strangle the animals necessary to households, and they cause disease. No one knows what to do with the bags once they are no longer useful.

One day Isatou gathers up some of the smelly bags and takes them home. She and some other women wash them and, while they are drying on the line, Isatou watches her sister crocheting. She asks her sister to teach her, and then Isatou comes up with an idea. Secretly, she and a few other women get busy evolving the old plastic bags into useful things – until their impact is noticed over a year later and cannot remain a secret.

One Plastic Bag is a story about how Isatou and her friends make a difference in the world through their recycling efforts. It’s a remarkable accomplishment with very positive environmental results.

Elizabeth Zunon illustrated One Plastic Bag by using her skill of collage. Her work is stunning.

Actual photos are included of the women in the story.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is a story that will help to bring awareness to young readers. One person CAN make a difference.

You can find One Plastic Bag on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Book Review: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse – by Lila Hope-Simpson

fiddles-and-spoons

 

 

 




Book: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse
Author: Lila Hope-Simpson
Illustrator: Doretta Groenendyk
Publisher: DPG: Dery Publishing Group
Date: 2004
Genre: children's historical fiction; age 5-9, gr K-4
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: historical event wonderfully-told for children

This is one of the beautiful books I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016, although my copy has a different cover, as you see below. Apparently, the image above is the newer edition which includes more illustrations.

fiddles-spoons-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse is written by Canadian author Lila Hope-Simpson, who, in fact, lives only a few miles from me. Illustrator Doretta Groenendyk is also a local artist.

First of all, look at this dedication – which seems very suited to the times we are living in – that she wrote in her book:  This book is dedicated to uprooted people from every place and time, whose spirits have proven that after adversity, life goes on.       And sometimes, there is even dancing.

Fiddles & Spoons is a historical fiction, fanciful for the child reader. This story is about a mouse family, the expulsion of the Acadians, and the will to survive.

In the small Acadian village of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, Canada, life was good. Families worked hard to keep their village functioning and to make a life they could be proud of. The men built sturdy dykes to hold back the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy, creating very fertile farmland along the coast – and those dykes are still there doing what they were intended to do.

Under the floorboards of the homestead of the hardworking Dubois family lived the Souris mouse family. They feasted on the crumbs that fell down through,  particularly enjoying Saturday nights when everyone danced and played their fiddles and spoons.

One night in 1755 it all changed. Soldiers marched in and separated the men from the women and children. Mama Souris was determined to not leave the Dubois family, so she and her family scurried along near the feet of all the people being forced onto boats. It was a long rugged trip until they finally arrived in a new land and were reunited with their loved ones. From there they had to start over. 

Lila Hope-Simpson told this story of an important historical event in a wonderful way, introducing children – and perhaps adult readers – to the Expulsion of the Acadians, which is a memorable part of local, and far-reaching, history. It is not heavy-handed so as to include lurid details of the atrocities committed against an honest, God-fearing people. On the other hand it is not overly gently told so that the drama cannot be felt and understood. 

Doretta Groenendyk‘s illustrations are colourful, playful, effective. I especially like the scenes of Minas Basin and Cape Blomidon which are very familiar to me.

You can find Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂