Barnacle Is Bored
A barnacle on a dock bemoans his predictable, boring, existence. He watches a colorful fish swim by and imagines all the wonderful adventures he has, until barnacle sees something that makes him realize his boring life might not be so bad after all. Barnacle is Bored has the same sarcastic tone as another fun sea book, I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. They also share a similar dark humor as the punch line of the book. The illustrations in this book are simple and whimsical and are the perfect compliment to barnacle’s tale of woe. A book of few words, this is a simple, yet humorous, story that reminds children that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side.
Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: The Case of the Eweey, Gooey, Gross and Very Stinky Experiment
Imagination and messes go hand in hand for Stewie BOOM! and his sister Princess Penelope. In Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: The Case of the Eweey, Gooey, Gross and Very Stinky Experiment, Stewie BOOM! and his sister Princess Penelope love to do experiments with things found around the house. From food to cleaning products, if it can be mixed they will use it. However, one day an experiment quickly goes from fun to gross and to hide it they decide to dump it out the window. When their experiment ends up on the dog, turning it green and on the grass, turning it brown their parents say enough is enough. When their older brother, Zoom, shows their mom a website about the harmful chemicals in food and cleaners it gives Stewie an idea. He tells his parents they should go through everything in their house and get rid of the yucky stuff. The parents like the idea and the family learns about going green, which is a lot harder than Stewie thought. Can he stick to their plan and go green with the family? More importantly, is this the end of his and Princess Penelope’s experiments?
Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: The Case of the Eweey, Gooey, Gross and Very Stinky Experiment written by Christine Bronstein and illustrated by Karen L. Young is an enjoyable story that teaches a great lesson about the harmful things that can be found in everyday items and how to go green to avoid them. The illustrations are fun and go along well with the story. What makes this book unique is that it is not only a fun story book to read at home but that it is also a great teaching tool that can be used at home or in the classroom. With a glossary of terms, explanations about recycling, composting, and other ways to go green and fun ways to check yourself to see how green you are this book has many uses. There are even fun experiments included that young children will enjoy (with parent supervision of course). Overall, a great book with a great message.
The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Harvard: A New Way of Getting Children to Stop Sleeping and Start Achieving
Ronald is a young rabbit who likes normal children stuff… he has joyous, playful thoughts in his head but his mother is obsessed with him getting into Harvard. So his days are filled with all the “right” activities: SATs, violin practice, French language practice, community service hours, and so forth. He is not allowed to read silly books, like Peter Rabbit, even if his dream is actually to be able one day to write one.
On the way to meeting the Admission Officer, they meet a wolf, Adderall Aardvark, that gives Ronald a powerful, invigorating potion; and Kollege Koach Kitty, who gives him all sorts of advice on more and more activities and hobbies to pursue in order to get a long resume.
When finally Ronald and Mom get in line to see the Admission Officer, together with thousands of other rabbits trying to get into Harvard, Owl, the Admission Officer, tries to find out if Ronald has any special quality that will get him admitted (for each special quality Owl is ready to sprinkle a “magic” “admission powder” over him). Unfortunately, his achievements do not seem to stand out, until Ronald confronts Owl and tells him that his dream (contrary to what mom hopes for him, he whispers) is to become a writer for children’s books. Owl makes him promise that his book will have space for him, the Owl, and for Kitty and Aardvark too, and sends him home. Ronald thinks he’s made it. But once home he gets an e-mail of rejection and finds himself relieved. He writes the best children’s book ever written. He sends it in, and immediately gets a second e-mail: he’s been admitted. He goes to tell mom, who’s already working on getting him admitted into… Stanford.
I am not sure I enjoyed reading the book. There are indeed funny references to an unfortunately common situation, an addicted single parent raising a child and obsessed with such child having the “right” future… yet ignoring of the fact that such expectations are robbing him of his present life and his inner joy. Aside from the joking expressions and cliches, the rest of the book just does not flow. It is not just the abundance of different fonts (each carrying a different meaning) that interrupts the natural flow. It is also the choice of situational descriptions that keep mixing important with marginal, to the point of losing the reader.Just a good idea with a terrible execution.
Where Do Garbage Trucks Go?: And Other Questions About Trash and Recycling (Good Question!)
Garbage trucks seem to be a universal favorite of children, and most are naturally curious about what exactly the garbage truck does and where it goes. Now parents have some solid, kid-friendly answers in Where Do Garbage Trucks Go? by Benjamin Richmond, which answers a bunch of questions related to both trash and recycling. This picture book talks about the history of sanitation in cities, landfills, recycling, and ways to reduce waste and help the planet. There are fascinating photographs and lots of detailed information; this book is definitely geared toward the older elementary school crowd, although some preschoolers and kindergarteners may enjoy it in small doses.
This book does a great job breaking down these complex questions into answers that younger children can understand, and chances are good that parents will learn something new, too! Kids will likely be left with even more questions than before, but that just means that this book is a great launching point for further exploration of a subject that truly interests most kids. This informative book will be read over and over again by curious youngsters.
Jermaine the Giraffe is having a very sad Thanksgiving indeed. Not only is he all alone, but he doesn’t have any food to eat either. Luckily for him, his friend, Grant the Ant, and his enormous ant family bring enough food to fill Jermaine’s empty belly.
This book has some fine qualities. The illustrations are very nicely done. Bright, full color pictures offset the text beautifully and create a great visual world for young readers to enjoy. The ants are adorable, as is Jermaine, with his large oval eyes and round snout.
The plot of the story is cute too, but the delivery could use some polishing. The story is told in rhyming couplets that often interrupt natural syntax so much that it’s difficult to read aloud to the young children it’s aimed at.
The main message that does come through, is that people, or in this case, ants and giraffes, should help each other out. Grant and his family don’t think twice about sharing what they have to help Jermaine. Unfortunately, there’s a missed opportunity for Jermaine to exercise good manners and thank his friends, but he doesn’t. In fact, Jermaine doesn’t express gratitude at all, except for in the smile on his face in the illustrations. At the end, it’s the ants who say, “Thank you, Lord, for this Thanksgiving Day.”
There is brief mention of prayer, as Jermaine “sat alone and talked to the Lord” before his friends bring him any food. It would be tighter in the overall story arc if Jermaine at least joined his friends in thanking the Lord at the end, since we’ve seen that Jermaine has some sort of religious affinity but the ants had “forgotten to pray” before their meal.
Overall, the illustrations and the premise are wonderful but the plot could use some tightening. It would also be beneficial to drop the contrived rhyme scheme and just tell the story in natural language.
Megalopolis: And the Visitor from Outer Space
Everyone loves the beautiful, gigantic city of Megalopolis, and one day an alien even came to visit! The city officials were so amazed that they declared a holiday, had great celebrations, and even made the strange visitor into an ambassador! But when one celebration goes too far and the visitor falls ill, what will happen?
Kids are going to LOVE this fantastic picture book from French author and illustrator Cléa Dieudonné. Megalopolis is a vertical story, which means that it’s one giant page that slowly folds out, dishing out the story a few sentences at a time, until the page is more than 10 feet long! The illustrations are delightfully complex, and readers of all ages will love seeing what details they can find, or how many times they can find the alien visitor as they follow him through the story, or even if they can locate some of the suggested pictures from the back of the book (such as all 3 giraffes, 8 ghosts, or 118 buildings). This book is definitely unique, and it’s one that is sure to be loved by both children and adults for its fun premise.