Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My new best friend

by Sara Marlowe
illustrated by Ivette Salom
age range: 3 to 7 years old
Wisdom Publications

This girl's new best friend is always by her side. She has known her her whole life, but only now they are friend. This friend supports and encourages her. They also have fun and share beautiful moments. And also very important, The girl knows her best friend is going to be there for her forever. "Any guesses who my best friend might be?" she asks, "My new best friend is me!"

The story's goal is to boost self-compassion. We should treat ourselves in the same way we treat those we care about, with kindness, understanding, and love. Being angry and unkind with ourselves is a form of inner bullying.
The text is sweet without being melodramatic, and the illustrations lovely. I find fantastic the idea of represent the friend as a drawing of the girl. This is a great resource to approach an interesting and important topic. I would strongly recommend it.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 23, 2016


An Encyclopedia of Everything Scary, Creepy,
and Spine-Chilling,from Arachnids to Zombies.
by Julie Winterbottom
illustrated by Stefano Tambellini 
Workman Publishing

Frightlopedia is an encyclopedia about not only ghosts, haunted houses, monsters and mummies, but also about killer bees, rats, sharks, UFOs, catacombs, flesh eating plants, and more. Each entry has a score from 1 to 3 in the "fright meter" to let you know how scary it is, so you can decide if you want to read it, or maybe just skip it. So while the fear of being buried alive is a 3, fake wounds are only a 1.
The approach of the author is that it's fun to be a little scared when we know you are not truly in danger, but being too scary is not funny at all, and it is also unnecessary. The text is also humorous, making the whole experience less scary. At the same time we tend to be less scared of things when we know more about them, and understand better when a fear is actually unreasonable, and also how we can avoid situations that are potentially dangerous.
The book is thoroughly illustrated, and it counts with "Horrifying how-tos", which are little projects like make the house look haunted, paint a vampire bite in your neck, or write your own ghost story.

Age range: Although the writing can be perfectly understood by a 8 years old kid, it also depends on how easily the kid gets scared. In the overall I would say that the goal of the book is not to terrify the reader, and most of the kids won't. But I understand parents should asses if their kids might find it enjoyable or not. I read many entries with my 8 years old daughter, and she found the book amusing.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Max & Charlie

by Zack Lieberman
illustrated by Louis Neubert
age range: 10 years old and up
Exit Strategy New Media

Max and Charlie is a graphic novel for middle graders about the adventures of Charlie, a very imaginative boy, and Max, his unconditional beagle.
Max really is very creative and dreamy boy, with a impressive inner world, and he includes Max in all his adventures, for example exploring the universe aboard the SkyFhiter 3030, and saving an important crystal to deliver it to Earth.
One afternoon they are having a pleasant time at the park when Max sees a cat. Max chasing the cat, and Charlie chasing Max, they end both in NYC. Charlie doesn't know where his dog is, and his big adventure starts when he wanders around the city trying to find him. Charlie meets many people, and visit many places in an intriguing trip where is difficult to know what is reality and what is Charlie's rich imagination.
The art is beautiful, the use of colors wonderful, and the expressiveness of the characters amazing.
I think this is a very interesting options for kids and teenagers who enjoy graphic novels and dreamy plots.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I wanna be a big dinosaur

by Heath McKenzie
age range: 2 to 5 years old
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

More than anything in the world this little boy wants to be a BIG DINOSAUR! And he is lucky, because it just happens to be a big dinosaur around who knows everything about being a big dinosaur and is willing to help. So lessons start right away. A big dinosaur has to know how to roar, and stomping, and eat lots of meats. The little boy wants to know if he can eat other foods too, and read, and play video games, because he really enjoy this activities. And the big dinosaur starts enjoying these activities too. Now more than anything in the world this big dinosaur wants to be a LITTLE BOY! And they agree to be both...

This is an enjoyable story about how both "quiet" and "noisy" activities can be fun. Sometimes we are like big dinosaurs, but we also like to play like little boys.The illustrations are wonderful. My favorite is the page where the dinosaur tries different types of foods. Hilarious! Great option for a funny reading aloud time.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Not today, Celeste!

A dog's tale about her human's depression.
by Liza Stevens
age range: 4-5 years old and up
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Celeste has everything a dog could want: a warm bed, food, water, toys, and Rupert, who gives her lots of love and playtime. Rupert is the best. But one day Celeste notices there is "something different" about Rupert. He looks sad and tired; he doesn't eat and nearly forgets to feed Celeste; he doesn't want to play or walk her. Celeste is worried about him. Would this "something different" ever go away? Does Rupert still love her?
Lily, Rupert's neighbor, who notices something is wrong with Celeste, decides to visit and see what is going on. Lily explains to Celeste the "something wrong" is called depression, and there are people who can help Rupert. She assures Celeste this is not her fault, and that Rupert still loves her. It feels good to hear that. After some time Rupert starts feeling better, and life comes slowly back to normal. Celeste hopes the depression doesn't come back, but she knows that if it happens, she and Rupert will know what to do.

The goal of this story is to explain to kids what depression is, and to give them tools to deal with it. It's written in a way which encourage questions, and gives opportunities for kids to express how they feel and what they think. The text is easy to understand, with pretty illustrations.
It also counts with a guide for adults by Dr. Pooky Knightsmith with tips on how to address the topic with kids, how take the best advantage of this resource, and some "key messages" that should be reinforced when speaking about depression.
I really liked this book, and highly recommend it!

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Babak the beetle

by Fred Paronuzzi
illustrated by AndrĂ©e Prigent
age range: 4 to 7 years old
NorthSouth Books

One morning Babak, the dung beetle, finds an abandoned egg and decides to look for its parents. He asks the ostrich, the cuckoo, and the frog, but nobody knows who the egg belongs to. He finally finds a snake who tells him the egg comes from a large field "over there". Without knowing it, Babak happily carries the egg towards the golf court. When he  finally arrives he can see that many other eggs like the one he carries are laying everywhere, and he is absolutely terrified to see how the eggs' parent hit them with sticks, making them to fly and fall in holes. What a beastly behavior! No way he is leaving his egg here! Babak carries his egg back where he can take good care of it.

If I had to describe this book with one word, I would say "cozy". All about it gives me the feeling of an old book: its simple illustrations in only four colors, the font which reminds me of mimeographs, the pilgrimage style of the text. It looks like a book to treasure.
The text is both warm and humorous. And how not to love Babak so kind and gentle? I have always loved dung beetles, and Babak is now among my favorites.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 6, 2016


text and illustrations by Esme Shapiro
age range:
Penguin Random HOuse
Tundra Books

Ooko is a fox, and he is looking for a friend. He is excited when he finds another fox, who is actually a dog, playing with a fur less two-legged fox, who is actually a girl named Debbie. But Debbie and the dog run away when he gets closer to play with them. Ooko is very upset. He really wants to have his own debbie to play with, but it seems debbies doesn't like him. What do the other foxes have that he doesn't? Ooko tries very hard to be like the other foxes until a short sighted woman mistakes him for her dog Ruthie. Then Ooko realizes that debbies are not that good at games after all...
Finally Ooko meets Oomi, a raccon who would love to play stick with him. Ooko is happy to know he doesn't need to be like the other foxes to have a friend.

We loved this book. It's funny and sweet. The art is beautiful, and original. I found the message "to each their own" interesting. The story points to the idea that when we can't find a friend it doesn't mean there's something wrong with us, we should just look for someone who doesn't expect from us to be who we are not. Someone who likes "play stick" as much as we do.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Max at night

text and illustrations by Ed Vere
age range: 3 and up
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Max is just a sweet, little cat who wants to say good night to Moon before going to sleep. But Moon is nowhere to be seen. Max goes outside, climbs trees, buildings, and more. He asks the night, the hill and the rooftops where Moon is. Finally the wind blows the clouds away, and the night turns bright and beautiful with a big, wonderful moon. And Max is so sleepy...

This story is really cute, and Max is an adorable character. The slow pace, and the repetitiveness of the text makes it an ideal bedtime story. The illustrations are simple, but lovely, colorful enough without being bright, as I think a bedtime story needs to be.
Although the book is recommended for kids 3 years old and up, I would say younger readers will enjoy it too. My 19 months old son loved it.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Who broke the teapot?!

text and illustrations by Bill Slavin
age range: 2 to 6 years old
Tundra Books
Penguin Random House

Mom's favorite teapot is broken, and she is not happy... Who broke the teapot?! Sister is making a mess cooking pastry rolls, it's true, but she didn't touch the teapot. Brother is hanging from the ceiling fan; definitively wrong, but he didn't broke the teapot. The dog is liking the bowl; kind of gross, but he didn't even see the teapot. Kitty ruined the wool yarn tangling it; bad behavior of course, but she was too tangled to reach the teapot. Dad is still reading the news in slippers and underwear; not very helpful for sure, but he didn't come even close to the teapot. So... Who broke the teapot?! You will be surprised!

Who broke the teapot?! is a great example of a picture book whose illustrations tell the story as much as the text, not only accompanying it. The text is very funny, rhymed, and not extensive. The illustrations are incredibly rich both in the characters expressions, and in details such as the newspapers headlines. They vividly transmit the tension of the moment.  The book made a wonderful read-aloud story and my kids asked to read it again a few times. It is a 5 stars to me.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.