This is the last set of books that I read to and/or with my grandchildren before I left to go south. I forgot to post reviews, so here they are. I had to try and remember what their comments and reactions were, but I think I remembered the gist of them. Again, all books were provided by the publisher upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own or my grandchildren’s.
Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! by Julie Berry, April Lee
Published September 10th 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
Godfrey, is a young boy who “borrows” a book about beasts from a scribe and spends the rest of the day making up tales about a knight, aptly named Godfrey, Godfrey the Gallant, the Glorious, the Good-Hearted, who meets the beasties from the pages. As he mentions each beast, it comes to life, but Godfrey doesn’t notice. The story doesn’t flow smoothly, but it works to introduce various creatures.
I read this to my granddaughter, but it didn’t work. She is too young for it, but she did like “the monsters” and wanted to talk about the illustrations. On the other hand, my grandson loved it. The illustrations were amazing, full of detail and colour. He asked all kinds of questions and we shared the information in the end pages about medieval life and mythical creatures. He enjoyed the story and thought Godfrey was funny when he didn’t notice the creatures that kept appearing. I always enjoy a book that has some subtle humour that I will enjoy and this one has some of that. This is a great book to share with young people who enjoy history, magic & fantasy, as well as mythical beings. I definitely recommend this one to schools and public libraries.
Frank and Bean by Jamie Michalak, Bob Kolar
Published October 8th 2019 by Candlewick Press
Before I read a book to or with my grandchildren, I always read it first. I read this one and was not impressed, but wanted to see what my grandson thought. Well, he thought it was great. He was also able to read bits himself, so it was a truly shared experience.
Frank and Bean is a short, illustrated chapter book for kids about a couple of foods that are often eaten together, but with personalities that are as different as night and day. Frank likes peace and quiet so he can write in his secret notebook (this is like my grandson). Bean is LOUD and messy. When Bean parks his van near Frank’s campsite, Frank has to deal with it. Of course as they are trying to work together, they realize they can help each other. My grandson thought a hotdog and a bean were silly enough, but he also enjoyed the illustrations. They complement the story and add picture clues for the beginning reader. The story is simple enough and the idea that a young reader is reading a chapter book that is also funny, is a bonus. I recommend this one to families with emergent/beginning readers, school and classroom libraries.
There’s Room for Everyone by Anahita Teymorian, Delaram Ghanimifard (Translator)
Published September 21st 2018 by Tiny Owl Publishing
This short and simple story shared the feelings of a young boy noticing as he grows up that there is always enough room for everything. There is enough room for him in his mother’s belly, there’s enough room on the lines for the birds, there is enough room in the sea for all the fish and the creatures and so on. What he does notice is that people always want more room, from seats on a bus to using the bathroom. Of course this also alludes to wars over land, power and beliefs. The end of the book shares a secret; “If we are kinder, and if we love each other then, in this beautiful world, there’s room for everyone.”
This book has a great message about getting along, sharing and being more accepting of others. I loved the quirky illustrations, full of colour and looking like the people that my grandson draws. He liked the story and loved that Harry Potter was in the pile of books. I enjoyed all the titles of the classics. He talked about kids at school pushing and shoving to be first in line and we talked about that. We didn’t get into a lot of the world issues that this book could be used for with older children though. This is very simple, but it has a powerful message. A good book for schools.
Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s stand to save the world by Zoë Tucker, Zoe Persico
Published November 19th 2019 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
This story uses Greta Thunberg as a character in a fairytale with a happily ever after, let me explain. Greta lives in a forest and the animals are being wiped out by giants who have built cities and factories and are killing everything. Greta isn’t afraid of the giants and she stands up to them by protesting. Gradually other children and the animals all join her and begin protesting as well. That is similar to what is happening in the world today. But in this tale, the wonderful thing is that the giants actually listen to them and begin to make changes and save the world.
This is a great way to bring this story to children. It shows the issues of climate change in a way that will appeal to children. I love that the animals that are being affected also join in. At the back of the book, there is information about the real Greta Thunberg and information about Climate Change. There is information showing that everyone needs to do their part to help. The illustrations were great. They showed great expression, emotions and issues all done in a way that attract the eye and complement the text. I read this to my grandson and he felt bad for the animals and wanted to know how he could help. We talked about a few things that he said his parents and teachers had also talked about, so that is all good. This is a definite book that should be in all schools. I think it would have more impact with children 8 and up.
How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace, Andy Elkerton
Published November 5th 2019 by Sourcebooks Wonderland
This is the third book in the “How to Catch a” series by Adam Wallace we have read. We enjoyed this one as much as the others. This outing has the kids trying to find and catch a dragon, in this story it is a dragon that is part of a celebration for “Chinese New Year” The boy and his friends desperately wants to catch a dragon to guarantee health and good fortune for the New Year. He tries several different things to trap the dragon with his friends, but this dragon is tricky. I loved the illustrations in this story, they were so colourful and vibrant. I also like that this story deals with an ethnic holiday (Chinese New Year) and that the characters in the story were all nationalities. The text has a nice cadence to it with the rhyming prose. My grandson had not really heard about the celebration of Chinese New Year, so was very interested in what they do to celebrate. He asked a lot of questions so we looked for a simple book about this celebration at the library and read it together. So awesome that he wanted to do that. My granddaughter loved searching for the dragon and thought it was a fun story. Overall, a success for us and one I would recommend for libraries to have in their collections.
Bear in Love by Sam Loman
Published January 28th 2020 by Clavis Publishing
This is a hard book to review. I love the message about love and that a bear and a squirrel could be in love, but I would much rather this be a book about friendship. Showing children that it is okay to show you care about others, even if they don’t look like you, is a good message. Love on the other hand, can be confusing to children. I enjoyed the illustrations, they were cute and very child appropriate. The fact that bear is very shy and afraid to talk to Squirrel so leaves little gifts instead is quite sweet. Taken at face value, after reading it to an almost 4 year old, she liked the book. She thought it was nice that bear and rabbit were good friends. She didn’t get the whole shy idea (she doesn’t have a shy bone in her body) but liked the story. My grandson was kind of meh about the whole thing. He listened with his sister, but didn’t have a lot to say about it. I can see including a story like this in a unit of acceptance, sharing your feelings, differences etc. in a primary classroom.
Pinky’s Fair Day by Valeri Gorbachev
Published May 25th 2019 by Star Bright Books
Pinky the pig wants to be known as a good helper. That is good, but the reason behind it, is to compete with friends, not so good. When Pinky tries to help, he ends up messing everything up. At least he tried. I wish the reactions of the ones he tried to help would have been different, such as telling him he tired hard instead of sending him off somewhere else. At the end, he ends up being a hero without even trying.
This is a good book for kids with a great message. Having said that, I think an adult needs to have discussions about the delivery or the message might get lost. Every young child has tried to be a good helper and messed it all up, so will be able to identify with Pinky. Even though he messes up, he keeps offering to help, which brings perseverance into the story. When a pair of animals is trying to do something dishonest, Pinky is in the right place. My grandson enjoyed this story. He laughed at Pinky’s “mistakes” so we talked about when he might have made a mess or done something wrong, then I shared some stories as well. We also talked about how important it is to help others because it is the right thing to do, not to be recognized for it. The illustrations were great, we talked about them as well and he pointed out things to me that I had missed. Overall a successful read for us and I recommend it for family libraries, primary classrooms and school & public libraries. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.