Here is my second catch up post on all the books my grandchildren and I enjoyed over the summer. As always they were all generously provided by the publishers through Netgalley and the ratings, ideas and opinions shared are a combination of my reactions and those of my grandchildren where applicable.
Skunks for Breakfast by Lesley Choyce
Originally Published March 1st 2007, Published July 31st 2019 by Nimbus Publishing
My grandson and I loved this story. Of course the fact that his dog got sprayed by a skunk and he lived with the stink for a few days, might have made it more enjoyable for him. Pamela and her family live in Nova Scotia and have a crawlspace under their house. Various animals live under the house and they have no issues with it until a skunk moves in. The problem is when the skunk gets in an argument with another animal and sprays. The smell enters the house and everyone and everything stink. When their father finally decides he needs to do something to move the skunk on, they find out that there is more than one. A fun adventure follows as they rid the crawlspace of a family of skunks. The illustrations in this book are hilarious. I love the green, gaseous plumes that depict the skunk smell. My grandson immediately identified how stinky it is, but also said he got used to the smell after awhile. The fact that Pamela went to school in smelly clothes was pretty funny to him. The story was fun and amusing. Apparently it is based on a true story, but there is not afterward sharing that story with the reader. I think this would be a great story to share about living with nature and what to do in a stinky situation. A great book for any library.
The Great Compromise by Julia Cook, Kyle Merriman
Published September 10th 2019 by Boys Town Press
Cora June and Wilson cannot seem to agree on anything at school today. They have argued from the beginning to the end of the day, about what to bring in for their class feast, what to play at recess and even about the class field trip. Their teacher is at her wit’s end, and finally takes them aside to help them learn about their behaviour and how to compromise. I like that she talks about them both having skills to be a leader, but that one skill needs work. She explains that their arguing just wastes time and some ways to move forward. She also talks about the fact that sometimes compromise is not possible, such as when the class votes and one option wins. There are some good strategies given and also an explanation about not going along with things that are dangerous etc. This is a great story to be used for a specific purpose. It is one that can be read when there are issues of arguing and lack of compromise. It would be followed with a discussion of whatever the situation is that has prompted the argument or disagreement. This would be a good book to have in a classroom, or family library to be used for teaching the specific skill of compromise. There are a lot of very willful children out there that have a hard time when they do not get what they want and this story might just help a little.
Whizzy Wheels Academy: Dylan the Dump Truck by Peter Bently, Sébastien Chebret
Published August 13th 2019 by QEB Publishing
This is a cute story about Dylan the Dump Truck, a sentient truck that seems to have an attention issue. While he is being taught about his various jobs and responsibilities, he does not pay attention and actually causes problems for other vehicles that he is supposed to be helping. In the end, he saves the day, because he did observe a problem. My grandson enjoyed the story because he likes trucks and he also thought it was funny when Dylan didn’t pay attention. He didn’t seem to understand that Dylan’s inattentiveness caused problems. He liked that at the end Dylan saves the day. When asked if we should read it again, his response was “maybe not” and we moved on. Not sure if this is one I would recommend, but perhaps in a pre-school setting, it might made a cute read aloud followed by a discussion about paying attention to what we are doing.
Aya and Papaya Learn to Imagine by Andy Abey, Leo Antolini
Published July 28th 2019 by Troubador Publishing Ltd.
Aya, her doll Papaya and her family are back in this new adventure. It is raining and Aya is bored. There is nothing to do because she can’t go outside. When she is lamenting that there is nothing to do, her big brother Faz arrives home and announces that after he cleans up he will play with Aya and Papaya. With his help, Aya uses her imagination and they find all sorts of things to do and have a lot of fun. This is a cute book about imagining, family and being to open to suggestions from others. I have been reading this series to my grandchildren and they love spending time with Aya and her family. The illustrations are very child friendly with large, colourful images. My one question about this one is that in previous books, Aya sure had a good imagination, yet in this one, it seems to have vanished. The grandchildren didn’t seem to take any notice though. A cute story and a fun series for family libraries.
A Warm Friendship by Ellen Delange, Jacqueline Molnár
Expected publication: October 1st 2019 by Clavis
A Warm Friendship by Ellen Delange is about friendship, sharing and caring, and saying goodbye. Squirrel comes across a snowman shivering in the snow. My grandson thought that was pretty silly because snowmen are made of snow so he shouldn’t be cold, but I told him it was a story and this one wanted to be warm. Squirrel and his friends all decide to help and bring the snowman scarves and blankets to wrap up in. The illustrations of the animals bringing things and then snowman wrapped up are absolutely gorgeous, so bright and colourful. Eventually it gets warmer, spring arrives and the snowman is gone, there is nothing but a pile of scarves and blankets on the forest floor. Squirrel is sad and upset that his friend is gone. Wise Owl reminds him that we will always have memories of our friend and see him/her in the flowers and in the hearts of others who loved her friend. This story has a couple of good messages. One of which is caring and loving one another. Do what you can to help a friend is a thing that everyone needs to hear as often as possible. The second message is about loss. Whether a friend or family member moves away, is too sick to play or unfortunately has passed on from this world, this story can be used. It is always sad when we lose a friend, but remembering to share memories with others and keeping them in your heart will help. My grandson immediately equated this story to his grandpa who is in heaven. He talked about pictures he can look at to help him remember and talking to his daddy or me, his grandma about things he did with grandpa. A wonderful story for families, schools and public libraries.
Bruno Has One Hundred Friends by Francesca Pirrone
Expected publication: October 1st 2019 by Clavis
It’s scary to think that this book is even necessary for children, but alas, that is the case. Bruno finds a phone on his way to play with his friends. When asked what it was and what it was for, he quickly tells his friends, Renzo and Rico, that it is for making friends. Bruno gets so caught up with his phone and all it can do, that he stays in his house all day and ignores his “real” friends. Fortunately for Bruno, he does not know how to charge the phone when the battery dies, so he heads out for some comforting. Renzo and Rico don’t hesitate to invite him to come along with them because they are still here and they are still his friends.
It amazes me when I see children as young as 4 or 5 with a cell phone. When I go out and about and see parents on their phones while their children sit there or go off to play, I am so sad. Our constant connectivity to others at the expense of those right beside us needs to be changed. This book has a very strong message about paying attention to the world right in front of us. I liked this story and think it will be more beneficial to the adults reading it to children than the child themself. I read this to my 6 year old grandson and was very attentive. He tends to be quite insular as he has autism, but he recognized right away that Bruno is going to lose his friends because he won’t play with them. We talked about “virtual friends” vs “real friends” and because he doesn’t have a cell or use things like facebook he didn’t quite get it. He is very lucky, his parents are not attached to their phones, in fact, when I message them, they don’t always respond because they don’t see the message for a couple of hours. I wish more parents were like that. I definitely recommend this book to families and libraries, in fact, I would love to see it on a shelf that says, “Recommended”.