The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

REVIEW: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Summary


Lou and her friends are brave adventurers. But Lou prefers that her adventures take place on the ground. And her friends want to play pirates up in a tree. She tries hiding, distraction and excuses. Yet her friends are having a blast playing pirates up in the tree while Lou watches from the ground. What can she do?

Review


I have loved Ashley Spires work for years! (Binky the Space Cat, The Most Magnificent Thing, Larf) The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do is a great companion to The Most Magnificent Thing. Both books look at perseverance from different perspectives.

The illustrations are always my favorite part of Ashley Spires’ work. In this book, I enjoyed the diversity of the group of friends. Lou’s cat companion is sweet. Lou’s expressions are great for conveying her emotions as she contemplates an adventure she’s not sure she can tackle.

Lou’s response to the challenge of climbing the tree is typical. Kids (and parents/teachers) will likely see themselves in Lou. She tries to distract her friends with things to play on the ground. She also tries to think of ways to get up with her friends without having to climb. Excuses. Anger and frustration. The reader can totally understand where Lou’s coming from. Apparently her friends do, too, because they offer to help her, and they don’t get mad or tease her.

My favorite part comes at the end. While Lou doesn’t have success in the book, she doesn’t give up. She keeps coming back and keeps trying again.

Many thanks to the publisher for an electronic review copy of The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do which they provided in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Wrong Side of the Paw

REVIEW: Ballet Cat: What’s Your Favorite Favorite? by Bob Shea

Summary


Ballet Cat and her cousin, Goat, want to do a show for their grandmother. Each one is sure his or her special thing will be Grandma’s favorite. Goat is doing magic and Ballet Cat will of course do ballet. Which will Grandma say is her “favorite favorite?”

Review


Delightful! This is the third book about Ballet Cat. The first one was outstanding, but I didn’t click with the second one, so I was hesitant to try this one. But I am so glad I did! The subtle humor in this book (as with the first one) reminds me of some of the humor of the Piggie and Gerald books by Mo Willems. These might be a little more sarcastic, though (thus, my love for them!).

The set up is typical for parents or grandparents with more than one child – pick a favorite. Grandma does a fabulous job of creatively deflecting the question in the end. This would be great both for reading aloud to a child and also for children learning to read. Ballet Cat is a great character and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Wrong Side of the Paw

REVIEW: Star Wars ABC-3PO by Calliope Glass and Caitlin Kennedy

Summary


A Star Wars Alphabet book. Includes references from Episodes I through VII and Star Wars Rebels. Each letter has an illustration as well as a poem. A is for Ackbar and B is for Boba Fett! The general format looks like a board book, but the pages are paper. It’s more of a picture book in a smaller size.

Review


Isn’t that cover darling?! This book is SO fun! The poems include lots of fun movie references. It can take a few tries to get the rhythm right on some of them (The poems don’t all use the same formula or rhyme scheme) but they are worth the extra effort because they are so fun. I imagine that a parent reading this at bedtime a few hundred times will know the poems by heart in no time.

The illustrations by Katie Cook are fantastic! They are really what drew me to the book in the first place. They made the book special for me. I would get her work on prints or t-shirts, I like it so much.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Fun for Star Wars fans of any age! Book two is Obi-123 which comes out today. You can see a picture below.

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REVIEW – How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett

Summary


A book about creating books! An author (Mac Barnett) tells the story of how an idea becomes a published book. And there is a tiger with a posse, a lot of waiting, pirates, astronauts, and the Great Wall of China.

Really!

A book about creating books!

Review


This is a fun, quirky little book that explains the publication process. An idea becomes a first draft. Then there are several more drafts. Then an editor. And corrections. Then an illustrator. And on and on until a reader finally gets to enjoy it.

The book is funny and silly while also communicating the steps to publication (or the steps to finishing a piece of writing). Readers learn all about the process in a pretty memorable way.

The illustrations are fantastic. I don’t usually gravitate toward this style of art, but the pictures are too clever not to enjoy. The illustrations of the author are my favorite as they really look like Mac Barnett (except for the really long beard).

This is a great collaboration from the team behind the Brixton Brothers middle grade mystery series as well as the picture book Chloe and the Lion.

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥

Wrong Side of the Paw

REVIEW: The Water Princess by Susan Verde

Summary


A clean water story based on the life of model Georgie Badiel. The “water princess” is an African girl who walks miles each day with her mother to get water for her family. The day is consumed with transporting water – dirty water. If only there was a better way….

the-water-princess

Review


First of all, this book is gorgeous. Peter H. Reynolds always does phenomenal work and The Water Princess is no exception. The colors are rich. I love the facial expressions he gives Gie Gie! The story is also so well done. The writing is tight, gently communicating Gie Gie’s frustration and longing. There are end notes  with photos of the quest for water in places like Burkina Faso, Africa. In addition, there are also websites cited where readers can go for information on Georgie Badiel’s foundation and a clean water charity called Ryan’s Well. I checked out both sites, and the work being done is inspiring.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

This would be a great book for families to read and talk about charity and service to help others. The two foundations are a great way for families to turn that conversation into action.

This book could do the same thing in classrooms and schools. The Water Princess could be a rallying cry for children to band together and make a tangible difference for children in another part of the world. Ryan’s Well Foundation started with the dream of a six-year-old boy. How inspiring is that!?

Wrong Side of the Paw

REVIEW: Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Summary


Little Red Gliding Hood is a spectacular skater. But her skates are falling apart! If she could find an amazing skating partner to join her in the Pairs Skating Competition, maybe she could win a new pair of skates. All the usual options are either already skating or not interested in skating with Red.

Maybe she needs to try an… unusual option.

Little Red Gliding Hood

Review


I adore fractured fairy tales!! I picked this up when I met the illustrator, Troy Cummings, at a conference earlier this year. This book is the perfect addition to my collection of fractured fairy tales. The story is clever. The illustrations include references to many fairy tales and nursery rhymes. This makes the book a great one to come back to over and over to see what new tidbits you spot this time that you never saw before.

I love using books like this in a classroom setting for compare and contrast activities. Reading the original first helps. Then have students make a list of ways this is similar to the original. Then tackle ways it is different.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Wrong Side of the Paw

REVIEW: Penelope Perfect by Shannon Anderson

Summary


Penelope is a planner. Penelope is precise. Penelope is a bit of a perfectionist. When things go according to plan, her style seems to work. But when there’s a wrench in her system, Penelope isn’t quite sure what to do next.

Penelope Perfect by Shannon Anderson

Review


Penelope is my kind of girl! She has a plan. She has a chart. She’s a good, careful student. She keeps a to do list! But I have fallen into Penelope’s trap, too — perfectionism. It’s the all-or-nothing thought pattern that says less than perfect is the same as failure. Thankfully, Penelope finds some balance during the story that will help her keep her perfectionism in check.

This could be a great starting point to talk about perfectionism with kids. I’d want to be really clear that Penelope’s planning nature isn’t the issue – lists and plans work for a lot of people. The problem comes up when people are so tied to those plans that they don’t know how to shift gears when things go awry. Or they give up or quit when things don’t go the way they wanted them to. Resources for parents and teachers are included in the back matter.

Rating:♥♥♥♥

 

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REVIEW: Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Summary


Madeline Finn does not like to read. It’s hard work for her, and she makes mistakes. Just once she’d like to earn a god star at school instead of a “keep trying” heart. Then she meets Bonnie, a beautiful dog at the library’s “Read to a Dog” program. Could reading to Bonnie help Madeline get a gold star?

Terrific Picture Book about Reading

Review


And I adore this book!! I think if I had to read it out loud, I might get choked up. Madeline is so sweet and honest about her reading struggles. She wants to do well, and she keeps trying. The illustrations are lovely, showing Madeline with her little stuffed bunny at home and at the library. Observant readers will notice her mom looking on with concern as Madeline keeps pushing through her challenges. Bonnie the dog is huge and looks sweet and calm as she sits quietly next to Madeline. I think the author does a good job of conveying that this process for Madeline takes time. And in the end, she is still not “perfect.” But her improvement – and her effort – is rewarded. This is a great read for libraries and classrooms as well as for reading at home. Good for fans of books about libraries or books about dogs.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

 

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REVIEW: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Summary


Looking for a book about creative kids? Ada Twist is an immensely curious child. Her family is not quite sure what to do with her curiosity and endless questions. If they can’t come up with a plan, soon, who knows what Ada might get into – or what might happen to the cat?!

Curiosity Books - Ada Twist, Scientist

Review


This book is dynamite! It is a celebration of curiosity and science as the means to find answers to our questions. Ada’s family is fantastic. I love how they grow alongside Ada, starting out worried and angry about the things she gets into. Then they start looking for ways to honor who she is and help her grow into her curiosity and her gifts.  The illustrations are beautiful and include lots of cool details to explore.

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

There are two other books in the series that are also great!

Iggy Peck Architect Rosie Revere, Engineer