With schools closed, my granddaughter is here each day for virtual/online learning. We read a few books each day and I am so behind on highlighting and reviewing them. Enjoy this group of stories, all provided to me by the publisher through Netgalley. My granddaughters comments or reactions are included where appropriate. The rating and opinions shared are our own.

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Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle by Cathy Ballou Mealey, Kelly Collier (Illustrations)

Published May 4th 2021 by Kids Can Press

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Differences can make good friends. A speedy squirrel is best friends with a slow sloth. When they see two friends ride by on a bicycle built for two, squirrel decides that is what they need, but they will have to make money. They get a job at a pickle place, bottling and labeling jars of pickles. Well, that doesn’t go well and they have some problems. They don’t make a lot of money, but get paid in a different way. Using their brains, they turn what could have been a bad situation into their new bike. Such a fun story about friendship and problem solving. The illustrations by Kelly Collier were wonderful. They were large, active and so funny. My granddaughter and I loved this book. She laughed and laughed, especially at Sloth’s activities. This is definitely a keeper.

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When Mom’s Away by Layla Ahmad, Farida Zaman (Illustrator)

Published April 27th 2021 by Second Story Press

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

When Mom’s Away is a timely children’s book focusing on life with Covid-19 from the point of view of a little girl. Her dad is a stay at home parent, while mom is a doctor and must quarantine in the garage to keep her family safe. It shows all the things that families are dealing with right now, such as virtual learning, staying away from grandparents, not playing with friends, wearing a mask and not seeing a parent for a few days. I hope that a story like this will help children see that everyone is dealing with similar things and that it won’t last forever. I liked that this was not what is often portrayed as a traditional family. There are many families where dad is the caregiver who is home with the children and mom works, it is also a multi-racial family which is nice to see as this is another realistic family we don’t see often enough in children’s literature. When my granddaughter and I read this she talked about her mommy living in the basement while she was making sure she didn’t have “the covid” but she was okay now. A good story for families to read to their children.

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Squirrel is Going to Be a Big Sister by Sam Loman

Expected publication: July 2021 by Clavis Publishing

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a perfect story to read to children whose families are expecting a new child. Squirrel is worried that the new sibling will be the cutest and sweetest and take all the love and friendship. When her baby sister arrives all the visitors come and bring presents and Squirrel feels forgotten. Her friend bear reassures her, gives her a present (a picture he drew) and draws her into the celebrations. This is such a realistic story. I remember when my granddaughter was born, that we remembered to bring little gifts for my grandson so he didn’t feel left out. We told him what a great big brother he would be etc. These are all important things for us to remember. The illustrations are well done. The illustrator did a great job showing emotion on the characters faces. When I read this with my granddaughter, she agreed that squirrel was sad and told us she was happy and sad when her brother was a baby. She said she loves him now because he can play with her. This would make a great gift for a child before their new sibling was born.

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The Grumpy Fairies Written and Illustrated by Bethan Stevens

Published February 23rd 2021 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a story about Fairies, but not the sweet, goody two shoes fairies most books write about, but those who are grumpy, the ones who don’t want to help everyone all the time. My granddaughter picked this book because she loves fairies. The illustrations in this book are delightful. The expressions on the fairies faces, the stomping and lying on the ground fairies are hilarious. When one of them shouts, NO, and falls to the floor, I couldn’t stop laughing and asking my granddaughter if she was ever a grumpy fairy. Of course she said no, until the end when she sheepishly replied, sometimes. This is a great story to discuss emotions and feelings and that it is normal to have those feelings, but sometimes there are consequences. In this story grumpy fairies have just the right sweet/sour taste that the goblin in the forest enjoys. Don’t worry, no grumpy fairies are eaten. This story is also a good one to predict what will happen next, what can the fairies do to be safe etc. A good story for families and kindergarten or early primary classrooms.

Best Buddies

Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde, Arthur Lin (Illustrator)

Expected publication: August 1st 2021 by Capstone Editions

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

From the day the boy is brought home from the hospital, his buddy, the family dog, was there with him. They played together, looked after each other and loved one another. They spent every minute together, until the boy started school. The first day was awfu! They both missed each other so much and didn’t sleep at all that night worrying about the next morning. When morning came, there was suddenly an answer to help get them through the day. They still missed each other, but were able to function until they saw one another again. We loved this book and talked about pets, missing people, and happy reunions. I found it odd that the blurb stated that the boy had Down’s Syndrome. First, the illustrations do not show any of the facial characteristics of a child with Down’s Syndrome and there are no other hints that this child has any needs or difficulties. We read it as if it was any child and it worked fine. The illustrations are full of emotions and fun, which we also enjoyed. A great story to read to kids who will be going to school for the first time, or heading off to camp etc. where they may miss a pet, a favourite toy, a sibling or parent.