490 posts categorized "Picture Books" Feed

Hats Off to You!: Karen Beaumont and LeUyen Pham

Book: Hats Off to You!
Author: Karen Beaumont
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

HatsOffToYouThe just-released Hats Off to You! is a companion book to the glittery Shoe-la-la!. In the first book, four girls declare their love for shoes. In this new title, the same girls are enamored of hats: dramatic, sparkly, eye-catching hats. The story begins with Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, and Claire in an attic, dressing up in fancy clothes, but lacking hats. They go down to a street fair conveniently located below and find a tent called "Chez Chapeaux" (yes, this is one of those books that will have the reader rhyming everything by the end of a read-through). They try on a plethora of hats before returning to the attic to add extra decorations to their selections. Only at the end of the book does the reader learn that the outfits are for a mother-daughter tea. 

Beaumont's bouncy text is read-aloud friendly and unabashedly glamour-focused. Like this:

"Oo-la-la! This hat's tres chic.
Mine was made in Mozambique.

Funky hat, to match my shoes.
I like the girly curlicues." 

She does vary the meter occasionally, to keep things from getting too sing-songy. Like this:

"Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, Claire!
Need to choose new hats to wear.

Hats and more hats piled up high.
Which hats do we want to buy?

Oh, my!"

There's almost a Dr. Seuss feel to the above example, paired as it is with LeeUyen Pham's jaunty illustrations of the girls dancing around the store, following the vendor. Each ends up with a leaning stack of multiple hats atop her head. The vendor's clown-like attire adds to the over-the-top feel of the celebration. 

As for the girls, they are adorable, with big smiles, and apparently boundless energy. They represent a range of ethnicities, with the hat-seller adding yet another gradation of skin tones. Each mom strongly resembles her daughter, and the book ends in warm hugs and thanks to the moms for all that they do. What mom wouldn't want to read this with her daughter? What six-year-old wouldn't delight in the crazy hats that end up on the moms' heads? 

Hats Off to You! is a delightful celebration of friendship, motherhood, and dressing up. It is multicultural without being "about" diversity, which is, I think, a great way to go when you can pull it off. While clearly aimed at four to eight year old girls, I could see Hats Off to You! appealing to that segment of little boys who like dressing up, too. It is read-aloud friendly and one that I look forward to sharing with my own six-year-old. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic  (@Scholastic
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History: Walter Dean Myers and Floyd Cooper

Book: Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5-9

FrederickDouglassFrederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History is a picture book biography written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. In straightforward fashion, it traces the life of a man named Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, born a slave in Maryland, who eventually (changing his name along the way) becomes a writer and leader of the abolitionist movement, as well as an advocate for women's rights. Myers gives particular focus to Frederick's quest to learn to read. His owner's wife starts to teach him, but her husband fears that learning to read will "make (Frederick) unfit to be a slave." He's right about that, in fact, and Frederick eventually escapes to Massachusetts. 

This is a very text-dense picture book that refers (though it doesn't dwell upon) to mature matters, including the fact hat Frederick was beaten for arguing with his master. I think it's more suitable for kids in elementary school than earlier. Reading it with kids will of course spark discussion about slavery, the causes of the Civil War, early women's rights, and the militant abolitionist John Brown. Like this:

"When he was nineteen, Frederick fell in love with a free black woman, Anna Murray. But he was a slave and could not be with her as he chose. The lure of freedom because almost unbearable, but to try to escape was a risky business. Slaveholders did not want to lose their precious "property." When slaves who tried to escape were caught, they were often punished severely.

Frederick new he had to take the chance!"

I do have one quibble about the book. The text skips over the fact that British sympathizers bought Douglass' freedom from his owner. This information is included in a timeline at the end of the book, as is the text of the document officially freeing him. But as I was reading the book I found it odd that this wasn't mentioned. I'm sure that Myers had a reason, but to me it was confusing. The timeline is helpful, though. 

I was quite pleased with Cooper's illustrations, rendered in erasers and oils on board. The old-fashioned sepia tones transport readers to the time of the story. We see Frederick as mostly serious throughout the book, but it's a picture of him as a boy enrapt as the mistress of the house reads to him that tugs at the viewers heart. 

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History covers a lot of historical ground, educating young readers about Douglass himself, as well about America in the 1800s. Myers does a nice job, I think, of humanizing Frederick, while keeping the story focused on the facts. This, I think, is the right balance for a book for younger readers. His focus on the power of words also comes through without being didactic, and delivers a more powerful message about education because of that restraint. Frederick Douglass would be a strong addition to any library's biography collection. 

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Pax and Blue: Lori Richmond

Book: Pax and Blue
Author: Lori Richmond
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

PaxAndBluePax and Blue by Lori Richmond is the story of a friendship between a small boy and a blue-tinged pigeon. Pax and Blue meet every day on a bus stop, where they greet one another with words and coos, respectively. Every day, Pax shares a bit of his toast with Blue, as a gesture of friendship. However, one day Pax's mother is late, and drags him away before he can share his customary crumbs with Blue. Not understanding, Blue follows Pax all the way onto a subway car, where his appearance causes a bit of a scene. Luckily, Pax knows what to do the, and both pigeon and friendship are saved.

Richmond's text is straightforward and just a touch sentimental. Like this:

"But this morning was different.
Pax knew little ones can get rushed along--
Especially when Mom can't be late.

But Blue didn't understand." 

The "little ones" in the above, as well as another reference to it being not "so easy being little" on the previous page, make me think that Pax and Blue is a better fit for preschoolers than for older kids. There's a pathos to statements like "Blue was lost, and didn't know the way out" that support this, too. 

For me, what makes the book are Richmond's illustrations. Pax and Blue are always shown in brighter whites and colors, while the background and most characters are in more muted shares of gray and purple. Pax, with his huge glasses and worried face, is charming, and Blue's quiet sadness when Pax passes him by is touching. A favorite page for young listeners is sure to be a spread in which we see just Blue's face, eyes enormous and white, and the text "Uh oh" (prior to Blue being noticed on the subway car). 

It's also nice to see the urban setting of the book, too, something still less common than suburbia in picture books. Pax and Blue are two friends sure to win the hearts of many preschoolers. Pax and Blue would make a nice book for a library storytime, or a comforting bedtime read-aloud. 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears: Jessica Olien

Book: Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears
Author: Jessica Olien
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

AdriftAdrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears by Jessica Olien is a tale of how opposites not so much attract, but rather come to appreciate one another gradually over time. Hazel is a book-loving polar bear who just wants to be left alone to read. Olien calls her shy, but I would classify her as introverted. Karl is an extrovert who loves to talk, and who wants to be noticed. He also smells like fish. They do not approve of one other. However, when an iceberg breaks off from the shore, taking only Karl and Hazel with it, the two opposites gradually learn to get along. 

This premise could have come across as didactic, but Olien keeps things light. I think that the book's 40 page length helps, giving her time to develop the two characters, and their rapprochement, slowly. She also uses the device that the iceberg is melting, forcing the two bears to physically become closer over time (and lending a small bit of worry that they might not make it to another shore at all). 

It could be that I just identified with Hazel, of course. Here is how she is introduced (wearing an orange scarf and reading Moby Dick):

"She doesn't talk very much.
She likes to sit and daydream in a 
quiet spot by the water." 

So of course I love her. But I also liked this exchange, as the two start to accept that they are stuck together:

"Of all the polar bears, Karl is stuck with
the one who doesn't like to talk.

Of all the polar bears, Hazel is stuck with
the one who talks too much."

Karl has a delightfully nervous expression, while Hazel stands with hands on hips.  The bottom line is that the two polar bears are well-defined characters, their described personalities reinforced by their actions, and by Olien's bold illustrations. I like them, and found myself rooting for them, even as I smiled over them building a wall of ice blocks to divide up their little floating island. The happy ending will make young readers smile.

Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears is an appealing book about friendship, survival, and learning that opposite personalities can complement one another. It could also be used by parents to introduce the concept of introverts vs. extroverts, those these exact terms are not used in the book. Recommended for library purchase, and an especially good fit for fans of books about polar bears. 

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Things to Do: Elaine Magliaro & Catia Chien

Book: Things to Do
Author: Elaine Magliaro
Illustrator: Catia Chien
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

ThingsToDoThings to Do, written by Elaine Magliaro and illustrated by Catia Chen, is a book of short poems, each focused on something a child might encounter as she makes her way through the day. Topics begin with "Things to do if you are dawn" and move on through nature (acorns, spiders, the sun, the moon) and school (erasers and scissors) and on to nighttime. 

Elaine Magliaro's poems are joyful and read-aloud friendly. Some are quite brief, like this: 

"Things to do if you are BOOTS
Splish in puddle.
Splash on the walk.
Make the fallen
raindrops talk."

While others are longer, particularly those later in the book. While the poems technically speak to the item in question (e.g. the sky), they often offer advice useful to the reader, too. For example, "Things to do if you are a snail" concludes:

"The wonders of your world are small.
Don't hurry by.
Enjoy them all." 

Good advice for snails and kids, even as addressing the advice to the snail keeps the book from feeling didactic for kids. Nicely done! 

The poems are presented using varied fonts, with important words shown larger for emphasis (splish and splash above, for example). The word "stretch" is shown stretched out on another page, while the letters in "bumpy" bump up and down. This is definitely a book to look at while reading it, not just one to listen to. 

This visual display of the words is set against Catia Chen's luminous acrylic illustrations. The blurred edges of the pictures contrast with the crispness of the fonts, allowing words to stand out, even against full-page illustrations. The (somewhat androgynous) child seen on the cover makes an appearance in most, but not all, of the pages, interacting joyfully with her surroundings. The image surrounding the last poem, about the moon, brings Peter Pan's London to mind. 

If you are looking to introduce a young reader in your household to the beauty of poetry and the wonders of nature, Things to Do would be a great place to start. I could also see this as a classroom read-aloud for second or third graders, though I think it's a bit long for library storytime. Recommended, and a book that brightened my day.  

Publisher: Chronicle Kids (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


When An Elephant Falls in Love: Davide Cali & Alice Lotti

Book: When an Elephant Falls in Love
Author: Davide Cali
Illustrator: Alice Lotti
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

WhenAnElephantWhen an Elephant Falls in Love, by Davide Cali and Alice Lotti, is a rather charming little picture book about the foolish things that a person (well, an elephant) might do upon having a crush on someone. While some of these things are funnier when an elephant does them (such as hiding whenever he sees her), the actions themselves are universal. Like dressing with extra care or lying staring at the clouds for hours. Here's my favorite: 

"When an elephant falls in love,
he leaves flowers at her door.

But he runs away after ringing the bell."

We see the elephant shyly approaching the door with the flowers clasped in his trunk, and then the flowers lying at the foot of the front steps. Both text and illustrations are quite spare (the above is about the most text-dense page spread), with lots of white space, leaving room for the reader's own imagination. 

Although I personally love this book, I do have to point out that I'm not quite sure who the audience for it is. Your average first grade boy, while he might have a crush on a girl, is not taking extra baths or leaving flowers outside the girl's door. He is more likely to be punching his crush in the arm or chasing her on the playground. The actions taken by the elephant feel more like those of a middle schooler, if not an adult.

Then again, my daughter likes watching certain G-rated depictions of people falling in love in movies, so perhaps an audience for this book is five to seven-year-old girls. And if the "foolish" things that the elephant undertakes were to influence a generation of young boys to move from spitballs to flowers, this would certainly not be a bad thing. 

Recommended for those who would like to see a sweet portrayal of the goofiness that can accompany falling in love. 

Publisher: Chronicle Kids (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: December 20, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Bob, Not Bob!: Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick & Matthew Cordell

Book: Bob, Not Bob!
Author: Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7

BobNotBobThe title of Bob, Not Bob! only begins to make sense if you notice the text above the title: "To be read as though you have the worst cold ever." And what word sounds an awful like "Bob" when you have a really stuffed up nose? Why, "mom", of course. Little Louie has a terrible cold. And although generally getting to be more independent, when he is sick, all he wants is his mom. All the time. But when he calls for her in his stuffed-up voice, what comes out instead of "Mom" is "Bob". This gets a bit confusing, because his dog is named "Bob". Silliness prevails, all set against the strong force of maternal love and a sick child's need for comfort. 

Bob, Not Bob!, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Matthew Cordell, is a perfect picture book for the winter cold season, with just the right mix of humor and universal suffering. Like this (illustrated with a series of separate vignettes):

"Today, Little Louie's nose was clogged.

His ears crackled

and his brain felt full. 
(He didn't know of what.)

But mostly, his nose.
It was disgusting.

Little Louie didn't want to color.

Or watch TV.

He didn't even want to shoot baskets with wadded-up tissues. 
All he wanted (besides maybe some hot chocolate) was his mother.

BOB! called Little Louie with his weird,
all-wrong, stuffed-up voice."

Definitely fun text to read-aloud, especially if one is willing, as directed, to read Louie's lines in a properly stuffed up voice. 

While the text suggests Louie's mother's endless patience, as does the cover image above, Matthew Cordell does occasionally slip in hints that Mom is suffering, too. My favorite page is one in which Louie is ranting loudly about his misery, clinging to his mom's legs, while she holds a laundry basket and puts her free hand over her face. 

Speaking of the illustrations, bonus points for Louie and his family being brown-skinned, in a book that it not "about" diversity, but instead about something completely universal: the common cold. The text and illustrations together convey Louie's utter misery, as well as the melodrama that can accompany any sick child. 

Bob, Not Bob! is a book that belongs in libraries everywhere, to be taken home during or after a bout with sickness. Bob, Not Bob! offers a humorous take on a winter cold, but also honors the love and patience of mothers. The fact that the mom ends up sick at the end of the book seems inevitable and appropriate. Recommended for stuffy-nosed listeners of all ages. 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


A Greyhound, a Groundhog: Emily Jenkins & Chris Applehans

Book: A Greyhound, a Groundhog
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Chris Applehans
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

GreyhoundGroundhogA Greyhound, a Groundhog isn't so much a story as an extended bit of wordplay centering around a greyhound and a groundhog. Emily Jenkins' spare text reads almost like a tongue-twister, as we follow grey dog and brown hound around through the pages of the book. There's a minimalist narrative about the greyhound and groundhog becoming friends, playing together and celebrating nature. Like this (over three page spreads):

"A greyhound, a groundhog,
a found little 
roundhog.

Around, round hound.
Around, groundhog!

Around, brown hog.
Around, grey dog."

You almost have to stop and check yourself, to make sure you are reading it right. The similar and repeating words, and rhyming words, make A Greyhound, a Groundhog a poem in picture book form. I think it would work best as a read-aloud for preschoolers, with a soothing rhythm that would comfort before naptime. 

Chris Applehans' watercolor and pencil illustrations use a restrained color palette with lots of purple-tinged gray and brown, and plenty of white space. The spare illustrations reinforce the minimalist text, while also capturing Jenkins' wordplay around the shape of the animals. For instance, the "roundhog" mentioned above is shown rather like a ball, uncertain in the face of the cheerful and very different-shaped greyhound. Later in the book, as the animals' play becomes more active, both text and animals leap around the page, with slightly blurred edges representing speed. Ultimately, Applehans is able to capture the joy the greyhound and groundhog take from their friendship. 

A Greyhound, a Groundhog is a certainly a quieter picture book. It is also a lovely celebration of friendship.

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).A 


Hello, Mr. Dodo!: Nicholas John Frith

Book: Hello, Mr. Dodo!
Author: Nicholas John Frith
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

HelloMrDodoHello, Mr. Dodo! is a very cute picture book about a little girl named Martha who loves birds. One day, while looking for birds in the woods behind her house, Martha encounters a dodo. Of course dodos are supposed to be extinct, but this doesn't stop Martha from befriending the bird. She learns that he really can't fly, and that he loves donuts. She keeps the dodo a secret to protect him, but one day she slips up, and the dodo's life is threatened. Only some quick thinking by Martha saves the day. 

Nicholas John Frith offers a read-aloud-friendly text, with occasional italics for emphasis, and a clear trust in children to a) cope with mildly disturbing things and b) take responsibility on their own (as when Martha does her own research into the history of the dodo. Here's a snippet:

"It was a dodo -- and it was supposed to be extinct!

Once there had been thousands of them,
then they had all disappeared. People had
hunted them and eaten them for dinner.

No one had seen a dodo for hundreds of years.

"Poor things," thought Martha.
"Well, they're not going to eat my dodo."
And she decided to keep him a secret.

This is accompanied by an illustration of Martha in her room, surrounded by books, set against sample pages (in a muted gray, so that they don't take over) of texts describing dodos and showing their hunter-induced fate. Frith's illustrations (except for the sample pages) are colorful and vaguely cartoonish (e.g. Martha with oval, pure black eyes), and filled with details that highlight Martha's love of birds. Her bedroom slippers are birds, her binoculars are always around, her kite has large feathers attached to the tail, etc. My six-year-old particularly enjoyed a picture of Martha imagining the dodo covered with snow and looking like a misshapen snowman during the winter. 

Here's the true endorsement for Hello, Mr. Dodo! After I read it to my six-year-old, she immediately asked me to read it again. She used to do this as a small child, but now rarely wants an immediate re-read. Martha and Mr. Dodo found their way immediately into her heart. And into mine. Hello, Mr. Dodo! is going to be one of my favorite picture books of 2017, I believe. Highly recommended! This would make a great preschool or K-1 read-aloud.

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books  (@Scholastic
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Little Big Girl: Claire Keane

Book: Little Big Girl
Author: Claire Keane
Pages: 32 
Age Range: 3-5

LittleBigGirlLittle Big Girl by Claire Keane is a particular take on what happens when a one-time only child becomes a big sister. We see various vignettes of "Little Matisse" as she scoots up onto the counter to "brush her little teeth" and puts on her "little shoes", shown as small compared to those of her parents. When she travels in the back of her parents' car, we see how little she is, compared to the big city. But when Matisse meets her baby brother, she has an instantaneous shift in perspective. Suddenly her clothes and shoes and fingers are big, in comparison to those of the baby. Keane tells us about this perspective shift in words, but she also shows us in pictures, with Matisse growing larger relative to the background in many of the later images. 

Two things make Little Big Girl stand out for me in the sea of new sibling books. The first is the use of the perspective shift, as described above. When else in life does someone go from being small to being big overnight? Keane's bold illustrations capture this beautifully. The second this is the sheer joy that Matisse shows in her every interaction with her brother, and his clear fascination with her. While I think that it's useful to have books in which the new sibling cries a lot and is annoying and takes away attention, I found Little Big Girl's pure focus on a positive to be rather a joy. 

Like this: 

"He slept in a little bed, and wore the clothes Matisse was now too big for.

Suddenly, Matisse realized that she wasn't actually little at all.

She was big."

The first line of this quote is accompanies by a tender image of Matisse kissing the sleeping baby in his cradle. The second shows her putting on his tiny little shoes. We see her medium-size shoes, still small compare to the surrounding shows of mom. And with "She was big" we see Matisse looking at herself in the mirror, a stylish preschooler with hands on hips, self-confident and growing more so before our very eyes. 

Little Big Girl is not a complex book, but it's a nice, positive spin on what happens when someone becomes a big sister or a big brother. The illustrations are heart-warming (just look at that cover above), and the minimal text will keep the attention of even the youngest of big sisters. Little Big Girl would make a great gift for anyone you know who is expecting a second child. Recommended!

Publisher: Dial Books (@PenguinKids) 
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


The Princess and the Frogs: Veronica Bartles & Sara Palacios

Book: The Princess and the Frogs
Author: Veronica Bartles
Pages: Sara Palacios
Age Range: 4-8

PrincessAndTheFrogsThe Princess and the Frogs is a reinvention of the classic Frog Prince story featuring a princess who wants a pet frog, but who has no interest whatsoever in princes. Princess Cassandra has everything she could ever want, except for a best friend. She decides that what she needs is a pet who matches her favorite green dress and will play with her all day. The Royal Pet Handler eventually brings her a frog. She has a great time playing with the frog, right up until she loves the frog so much that she kisses him on the head and he turns into a prince. He wants to marry her, but she just wants a pet frog, and so sends him off to work in the kitchens. This happens again, and again, until a solution is found. 

Who knew that ALL frogs were princes in disguise? Hopefully this is just in Cassandra's kingdom, because otherwise, things could get a bit awkward. I just love that Cassandra, confronted by prince after prince, keeps saying: "Princes aren't pets. I want a frog!" She's a delightful heroine, with a big smile, round glasses, and a determination to play and read. Who wouldn't like her? 

My favorite page is one in which Cassandra has sent all of the princes away and is attempting to prove to herself that she doesn't need anyone. We have:

"Cassandra played in the empty courtyard and read books in the silent library.

But even her favorite green dress didn't make her happy. And she still didn't have a friend."

This is accompanied by images of Cassandra jumping rope, while two bored servants turn the rope for her, and having a sad tea party with a real cake and a stuffed rabbit. Finally, she sits dejectedly in a hopscotch grid. The bored servants cracked me up. And perhaps I thought of my own only child, constantly begging for playdates (though never with frogs). But I do quite like the way that Sara Palacios brings Cassandra to life. 

The Princess and Frogs is an engaging story featuring a non-traditional princess with a refreshing twist on happily ever after. It will make kids, especially girls, laugh. Recommended for home or storytime use. 

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure: Jennifer Thermes

Book: Charles Darwin's Around the World Adventure
Author: Jennifer Thermes
Pages: 48
Age Range: 5-8

CharlesDarwinAroundTheWorldCharles Darwin's Around the World Adventure by Jennifer Thermes is a nonfiction picture book focused on a five-year voyage that Charles Darwin took as a young man that strongly influenced his scientific discoveries. Charles, chosen to be the naturalist aboard a ship mapping measurements of South America in 1831, writes about his wondrous findings and collects various natural specimens. The book describes some of Charles' key discoveries at various points along his voyage, while rendering Charles as a real, accessible person to young readers. We learn about Charles' sea-sickness, for example, and how he felt when he experienced his first earthquake. 

Here's a snippet, to give you a feel for Thermes' writing:

"Charles dug up bones of ancient sloth-like creatures, including a giant Megatherium, buried on the beach. How many of these huge creatures once roamed the earth? Why had they disappeared? 

He studied the rocks and tried to figure out how steep cliffs and flat plains were formed. Was it possible that the shape of the land affected the animals' survival?" 

Thermes' illustrations are detailed, with labeled maps interspersed between images of Charles and his experiences. A map on the book's end pages shows Charles' journey as a whole, with an accompanying timeline. Although the main text is fairly detailed in and of itself, there are also end notes, sources, fun facts, and recommendations for further reading. There is a LOT here to keep an interested elementary-schooler reading and studying. My six-year-old was utterly engaged in Charles' story, though we did not pore over map in detail. 

Charles Darwin's Around the World Adventure is top-quality narrative non-fiction, featuring a likable historical figure, interesting plant and animal facts, and well-mapped journey. This is a book that belongs in libraries and classrooms severing first through third graders, everywhere. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (@AbramsKids)
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).