Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Harry and Clare's amazing staycation

by Ted Staunton
illustrated by Mika Song
age range: 4 to 7 years old
Tundra Books

Harry and Clare are staying home this spring break, and to make things worse the weather is not helping. They don't seem to care, though. They do an expedition to Mars, and also a cars race. They play pirates, and school, and circus, and jungle. Everything would be perfect if Clare wasn't the only one making the rules, and, what it is worse, if she wouldn't manage to always eat both their snacks... Harry has a plan, and when he gets to hoard some supplies of "asteroid burgers" and "volcano sticks" in this pockets, things start to change.

The story made me laugh out loud. Harry and Clare are very funny, and it is impossible not to relate with their little conflicts. At the same time they manage to solve them in a friendly way. These siblings are so imaginative and creative, and the illustrations accompany so perfectly their games.
In the overall it was a great reading, amusing, enjoyable and sweet. Adorable characters, and lovely pics. It is also very appropriate, since we are just starting a freezing staycation here...

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sam sorts

by Marthe Jocelyn
age range: 3 to 6 years old
Tundra Books

Sam's bedroom is a complete mess. It is time to clean it up. Sam begins to sort all his stuff to put it away, and he discovers there are so many ways of sorting things! Like in many other sorting books Sam sorts by shape, color, type and function. But what I loved about this book is that Sam dares to go beyond and he sorts his stuff in original and creative ways: things that come in pairs, things whose names rhyme, things with dots, holes, stripes or checks, soft, bumpy, fuzzy, noisy, pointy, smelly. No, that's not all. There are thing that float, and things that fly. Wait. Actually there are things that fly with wings, and things that fly without wings. Even things with wings that do not fly! The outcome is that Sam's stuff is still in a pile, but he has learned a lot of things, and had a lot of fun.

The pictures are wonderful. The complete book is a huge collage in different colors and textures. The author uses Venn diagrams in such a natural way as part of the story, no explanation is needed. But not all the objects are sorted using Venn diagrams, some times different color backgrounds, or even a rainbow or a pac-man "screen" do the trick. I was happily surprised by this book. A decided 5 stars. 

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Miles McHale, tattletale.

by Christianne Jones
Elina Ellis
age range: 4 to 8 years old

Miles McHale is a great boy. He is funny, and smart, but he has a big problem, he is a tattletale. He tattled all day long, and even during night. At school he wasn't the only tattletale, but he was definitively the worst. So one day Mrs. Snitcher decides to start the Tattletale Battle, whith the pledge "If a friend is sick, hurt, on in harm's way, then telling someone is OK". The team with fewest number of tattles at the end of the week gets extra recess. Miles is not doing really well. He is trying hard, but sometimes it is difficult to know if he was tattling or not. By the end of the week his team is loosing, and his friends don't want to talk to him. Then is when he decides it. No more tattling. Ever.

Poor Miles had to learn the difference between tattling and telling the hard way. The story shows in funny and exaggerated examples why tattling is so annoying and also useless. At the same time, deciding to never tell anything again is wrong. Sometimes someone might need our help, and it is necessary to tell an adult what is going on. It can be difficult in some occasions to know if that would be tattling or telling, but as any other social skill, it can be learned and improved. I immediately fell in love with the colorful illustrations, that look fluffy and so expressive. I would say this is a wonderful picture book who focuses in enhance social health in kids, something important to better fit in a community, and enjoy the social experience. 

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Very Christmas

by Simone Mets
cover illustration Jana Pivkova
age range: 5 years old and up

What a wonderful Christmas Story! 
This is the blurb from the book's webpage:

"When Santa’s workshop is destroyed by a ferocious storm, even the richest man in the world is stumped for a way to save Christmas.  Just when everyone seems to give up all hope, the unstumpable Ava Buttons, together with her friends, discover a way to make Christmas wishes come true.  Motivated by a desire to help others, Ava converts even her naughtiest friend, Rowdy Meyers, from an enthusiastic getter to a champion giver."  

It is a fact. Santa workshop is destroyed, all the presents are lost, and all the "Dear Santa" letters returned to the senders. Not even the richest man in the city with all his money can fix this. Christmas is not coming this year. 
Ava and her friends are incredibly sad. There must be something they can do to save Christmas. But what? Reading the returned letters, Ava realized that she can fulfill one of the wishes giving one of her toys. What if each of them do the same? Would they be able to fulfill all the wishes? They can at least try. The outcome is exceptional. The pile of presents is huge, but more important the good feeling of give to other is gigantic. So gigantic it also reaches Rowdy, the most self-interested kid at school. 

Focused in how it is more important and comforting to give than receive, this story is funny and heartwarming. It left you smiling and hopeful. It is also funny, with lovely characters, and an interesting layout. All of this without giving away Santa's identity secret. 
As you can see the cover is beautiful. This is not exactly a picture book, but more of a short story. Although there are some small illustration, these are particularly details, not full page pictures. I decide to label it for kids 5 years old and up thinking in the amount of text, and specially the amount of time it needs to be read, that probably it is too much for a toddler. 
Great story! Give it a try. 

I received this copy from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I am a lot of sometimes!

A growing-up story of identity.
by Jack Guinan
illustrated by Lars Rudebjer
age range: 3 to 5 years old
Red Chair Press

We are not always the same way. Sometimes we are big, and sometimes we are small. Sometimes we are strong, and sometimes we are weak. Sometimes we are shy, and sometimes we are loud. That's why we are a lot of sometimes. All those sometimes is who we are. 

The text of this story is really playful, and it is easy for the kids to recognize themselves in the different situations the character goes through along the way. It also keeps the door open to add many other things the kids feel they sometimes are, but that are not in the book. In the way it is written, the book becomes plastic, workable to introduce examples of how the reader feels. I would say the best thing about I am a lot of sometimes is how easy it is to make it your own. The funny and cute illustrations perfectly fit the story. 

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

The art of the possible

An everyday guide to politics.
by Edward Keenan
art by Julie McLaughlin
age range: 10 to 14 years old

You are a politician. This is the approach and reason for this book. Even if you are not old enough to vote, or think you don't need politics, or you choose not to pay attention to politics. Politics is the way we decide as a group how we do things. As a part of a community the decisions your make, or do not make, have an influence in the group. We need politics, and politics needs us. This is why is important to be a good politician, and that means being an informed and active member of the group.

This idea is repeated and explained along the different chapters of the book, and always in a positive way. The point is not to make the reader feel the burden of this responsibility, but understand how politics are the art of the possible. What is politics; how we decide things as a group, how do you make a good argument, and on the other hand how do you listen at other people's arguments, why conflict is good, and when it starts to be bad, how to keep all of this process honest, are some of the questions addressed by the book. The text is very accessible, and the author manages to avoid difficult or "big" words. The only few that are used are very well explained. The chapters include case studies to better illustrate how things work in real life, and at the end of the book there is also a glossary, index, and list of sources. I was surprised by the fresh and hopeful approach of this book. I am glad I crossed paths with it, and plan to buy a copy for my kids soon. Indisputable 5 stars to me.

Take a look at the author's introduction to the book in this short video.

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