#BookReview: Digger and Daisy by Judy Young

#BookReview: Digger and Daisy by Judy Young

Digger and Daisy Go on a PicnicDigger and Daisy Go on a Picnic by Judy Young

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
2014

easy reader

My first Digger and Daisy book was Star in a Play. I was pretty horrified by that one. Daisy is overly confident that she will remember the two word line she has in the play. Digger has no lines and is a tree. He saves the day when she freezes on stage in her role as princess and damsel-in-distress. This one is not much better.

They go on a walk. Digger smells things and asks what they are. Daisy looks and tells him. Too many aspects of the story are repeated three times for the sake of repetition. Sullivan’s illustrations are cute but the plot is uninspired.

It is possible to have quality easy readers. Unfortunately, the Digger and Daisy books I have picked up are not examples of quality easy readers.

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#BookReview: Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman

#BookReview: Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman

Grayling's SongGrayling’s Song by Karen Cushman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Coming June 2016!

middle grade fantasy

Grayling’s mother is a local wise woman that folks come to for ailments and problems. One day a mysterious magic roots her mother, and all of the other wise folk, to the ground, slowly turning them into a tree. And her grimorie, her book of spells and potions, has been taken. She sends Grayling to find it. But Grayling has no skills, powers, or real knowledge of her own. Or does she? She meets up with a band of powerful folk who haven’t been changed yet and they figure out how to save her mother, and all of the other wise folk. Grayling learns that perhaps she has some power after all… the most important of which is courage.

Though I wasn’t immediately grabbed by this one like some of her other titles, Cushman has done it again. It had a slow start and had some used themes, but in the end I really loved Grayling’s Song. This title set in an alternative medieval England, I always feel confident that the historical aspects of Cushman’s books are grounded in research . The mother-daughter relationship can be a difficult one and this does a great job of exploring it. Though Grayling doesn’t have a lot of confidence because her mother has called her feeble minded for many years, she ends up shining under pressure but not without much self-reflection and frustration. I also appreciate that, in the end, her mother treats her success as a matter of fact, saying that she knew we could handle herself, else why would she have sent her?

I think many mothers and daughters will be able to relate to this relationship. I would love to see this as part of a middle-grade Mother-Daughter book club reading. I think much discussion and personal growth would come from it.

Thanks to Edelweiss for this advanced readers copy!

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#BookReview: Squirrel’s World by Lisa Moser

#BookReview: Squirrel’s World by Lisa Moser

Squirrel's World: Candlewick SparksSquirrel’s World: Candlewick Sparks by Lisa Moser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Candelwick Press
2007

easy reader, transitional

Squirrel means very well. He wants to help his friend Mouse collect food, but ends up gathering too much. He wants to play with his friends Turtle, but Squirrel has way too much energy for him. He wants to help Rabbit get a leaf to use for an umbrella, but instead ends up sending him to the pond. As he is about to fall asleep, he realizes he forgot to say goodnight to his friends. He wakes up Mouse to say goodnight, he interrupts Turtle’s counting the stars to fall asleep… but he gives Rabbit a firefly to keep him from being afraid of the dark. He finally settles down after a “good, good, good” day.

This story is broken into four easy-to-digest chapters. Squirrel has some annoying dialog, but it is all part of his charm as a well-meaning but ill-fated friend. In the end, his annoying characteristics are redeemed by the size of his heart. I understand why this title was considered for a Texas Bluebonnet award. Moser’s tale could have been too over-the-top, but the sweetness comes through strong. Gorbachev’s illustrations are cute and add to the understanding of Squirrel and his frustrated friends. This would make a great transitional title for those ready to move on from easy readers into longer chapter books.

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#PictureBook Review: My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young

#PictureBook Review: My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young

My Blue Is HappyMy Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. Several people in a little girl’s life try to “define” colors for her such as red is angry, blue is sad, and yellow is happy. She puts her own spin on things by saying that “her” blue is happy like her favorite jeans and a splash in a pool on a hot day. Her yellow is worried like a wilting flower. Her red is brave as a firetruck and her superhero cape.

I just love that this lets kids know it is ok to think outside the box. Their emotions count for something when trying to define the world around them.

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#PictureBook Review: Supertruck by Stephen Savage

#PictureBook Review: Supertruck by Stephen Savage

SupertruckSupertruck by Stephen Savage

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
2015

picture book, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor, storytime

There are so many trucks that help take care of the city. The bucket truck fixes power lines and the fire truck puts out a blaze. But the garbage truck just collects the trash. Or does he? When the city is hit by a blizzard, the garbage truck sneaks away and transforms into SUPERTRUCK! He digs out the city and saves everyone… even the other brave trucks. The next day he quietly goes back to collecting the trash.

A seemingly simple story, I was unimpressed with this book at first. But after reading it with the kids several times (in a row, of course) I saw that it opened up some great discussion. While plowing through the snow and saving the day during the blizzard, garbage collection is a tough, extremely important, and often thankless job. I don’t know if that was Savage’s intention or if this was meant to be baby’s first superhero story.

I would use this for a Community Helper storytime where we read books about firefighters, police, doctors, etc. It would be great to have a Community Helper come and talk to the children. One GREAT idea I heard at a Summer Reading Program workshop was for a pediatrician to come and give a Teddy Bear Clinic after storytime, talking about to keep your favorite lovely happy and healthy.

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#BookReview: A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

#BookReview: A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

A Pig, a Fox, and a BoxA Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
2015

easy reader, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor

Sneaky Fox tries to play tricks on his friend Pig… but they always backfire on him!

This would have been my pick to win the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, but it instead took home an honor. Easy Readers that have a little attitude are my favorite. As I have said before, I just LOVE IT when an easy reader is written well! Clever illustration by Fenske add richness and foreshadowing to the simple rhyming text. This is a mighty pair when it comes to transitioning to easy readers.

I have got to check out Fenske’s other easy readers because I loved this one. I hope we get more Pig and Fox in the future!

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#BookReview: Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler

#BookReview: Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler

Don't Throw It to Mo!Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Penguin
2015

easy reader

Mo Jackson loves football, but he is smaller and younger than all of the other players on his team. He usually sits on the bench… until one day Coach Steve puts him in. The other team doesn’t think they will throw the ball to Mo, or that Mo will catch it, or that he will be able to run very fast. At the end of a game they are loosing, Coach Steve puts Mo in. He goes deep, he catches the ball, he runs it in, and they win the game. Mo tells Coach Steve that his play won the game, but Coach Steve says that Mo was the one that caught the ball.

This recently took home the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award at the 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards for the most distinguished beginning reader book. Personally, I think some of the honor books were perhaps a little more worthy (A Pig, A Box, and A Fox). But this is a sweet little story about achievement which is something little ones just learning to read get a rare glimpse of during this time of development.

I am torn on something about this book. Mo is just a part of Coach Steve’s plan. He isn’t the one to initiate it. We don’t really get to hear Mo’s point of view. Is he questioning himself? Struggling? Perhaps this is intentional. And at the same time, I like the relationship of adult and child… teacher and student. Teacher laying out a situation for discovery.

Perhaps I dig too deep into easy readers? 🙂 But children transitioning to reading on their own need good material. Quality easy readers are rare so I always appreciate when one is well done!

This would make a good book to highlight during #SRP2016.

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