Thursday, August 17, 2017

Board book: The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs. Michael Robertson, illustrator. 2017. Scholastic. 7 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. When they were all grown up, they went off to build their own houses. "Beware of the Big Bad Wolf," Mama Pig warned as she kissed her piggies good-bye.

Premise/plot: What you should know about this book: a) it's a board book; b) it's in a novelty shape with a handle; c) there are FOUR finger puppets and a built-in stage for story retelling; d) the story is THE THREE LITTLE PIGS; e) It is not the traditional story.

My thoughts: I enjoy the story The Three Little Pigs. In fact, in college I even did an annotated bibliography of picture book adaptations. I called it a pigliography. This retelling is not traditional in several ways. No pigs are actually eaten. All three pigs are alive and doing well at the end of the story. That in and of itself doesn't make this one all that different from many retellings. But in most retellings, the wolf is punished in one way or another for trying to eat the three little pigs. Justice is served up somehow, someway. That isn't the case in this one: the three little pigs willingly OPEN up the door and extend FRIENDSHIP. The book ends with these words: "The wolf stood up and smiled with a grinny-grin-grin! The End....or is it?

I like that children (or adults) can retell the story using the built-in theatre and the finger puppets. It can be retold in any way, one doesn't have to stick to the version used in the book. The finger puppets themselves are adorable.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mrs. Gorf had a long tongue and pointed ears. She was the meanest teacher in Wayside School.

Premise/plot: Wayside School was 'accidentally' build sideways. There are thirty floors, each floor containing one classroom. Sideways Stories from Wayside School contains thirty stories that focus on the students, the teachers, and the school. Primarily on the the classroom on the thirtieth floor. (Mrs. Gorf is only the teacher for one chapter. She's later replaced by Mrs. Jewls.) The stories are odd, strange, and sometimes amusing.

Mrs. Jewls, for example, keeps discipline with her chalkboard. If you're in trouble, your name gets put under 'discipline' on the chalkboard. If you get an additional checkmark and circle, you have to go home at noon on the kindergarten bus. There are a few students in her class that are a tiny bit curious what she does in her classroom from 12 to 2!

My thoughts: I liked this one. It's odd in the way Dahl's Matilda is odd. I love the short chapters. While I enjoyed some chapters more than others, my overall feeling is positive. Sometimes it's refreshing for a book to not be serious and realistic.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Picture Book Parade

Option 1:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which squares did you fill?
  • Which squares are you having trouble with?
  • How many until you bingo?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 2:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which categories did you check off your list?
  • What is your goal? How close are you to meeting that goal?
  • Which categories are you having trouble with?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 3:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which letters have you read?
  • How many more to go until you've read the alphabet?
  • Which letters are you having trouble with? 
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?
Books reviewed since last time:
  1. Big Cat, Little Cat. Elisha Cooper. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Counting with Tiny Cat. Viviane Schwarz. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. How to Track a Truck. Jason Carter Eaton. Illustrated by John Rocco. 2016. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. How to Babysit a Grandpa. Jean Reagan. Illustrated by Lee Wildish. 2012. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Miffy at the Library. Maggie Testa. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Trains Don't Sleep. Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum. Illustrated by Deidre Gill. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. Amazing Grace. Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch. 1991. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Bird, Balloon, Bear. Il Sung Na. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Tea with Grandpa. Barney Saltzberg. 2014. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. School's First Day of School. Adam Rex. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. Mr. Moon. Michael Paraskevas. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. Princess Super Kitty. Antoinette Portis. 2011. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. Trains. Byron Barton. 1986. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  14. And the Train Goes. William Bee. 2007. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  15. Monkey: Not Ready for the Baby. Marc Brown. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  16. Fiona's Little Lie. Rosemary Wells. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  17. Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes. Tim Wynne-Jones. Illustrated by Brian Won. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  18. Spy Guy: The Not So Secret Agent. Jessica Young. Illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2015. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  19. My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski's Class. Jeanne Birdsall. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  20. Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions. 2017. Abrams. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  21. Peppa's First Colors. 2017. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  22. Are You My Cuddle Bunny? Sandra Magsamen. 2017. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  23. Good Night, Sweetie. Joyce Wan. 2017. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  24. I Dare You Not to Yawn. Helene Boudreau. Illustrated by Serge Bloch. 2017. Candlewick Press. 28 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  25. Maisy's Sailboat. Lucy Cousins. 2017. Candlewick. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  26. Maisy's Bus. Lucy Cousins. 2017. Candlewick. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  27. Peppa and the Big Train. 2017. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  28. Train. Chris Demarest. 1996/2017. HMH. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  29. Bus. Chris Demarest. 1996/2017. HMH. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  30. Tinyville Town: I'm a Firefighter. Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  31. Tinyville Town: I'm a Veterinarian. Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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School's First Day of School

School's First Day of School. Adam Rex. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: That summer, they dug up the big field, and poured the foundation, and set brick on top of brick until they'd built a school. A sign above the door read, FREDERICK DOUGLASS ELEMENTARY. "That's a good name for me," thought the school.

Premise/plot: If schools could talk, what would they say? Adam Rex gives us his answer to this question in SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY. Will school like the students and teachers? Will school yearn for the days when it was just the two of them--the school and a lone janitor? What kind of memories will the school make during the school year?

My thoughts: Interesting premise, I must admit. Not entirely realistic, however. I can't get over the fact that one lone janitor is all the staff he ever sees (and gets to know) BEFORE the first day of school. Since teachers often spend at least a week or two before school starts for children. Most teachers head back, I imagine, before they have to because there is so much that HAS to be done. But setting aside real life, this one has its cute moments.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Mr. Moon

Mr. Moon. Michael Paraskevas. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good night, Miss Sun. Time for Mr. Moon to awake.

Premise/plot: Mr. Moon is a night-themed picture book for young readers. It isn't necessarily a book about children going to bed, as it is a look at things the moon might look down and see during the course of a night. It is whimsical, not realistic, so be warned. Some parents may not appreciate the GHOSTS that are portrayed as roaming the earth and searching for a home.

My thoughts: Didn't care for this one much. On the one hand, a few spreads of the illustrations were very nice. (I liked the train! I liked the sheep. I liked the raccoons.) On the other hand, it is a bit too whimsical for my taste.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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