Book Review: After the Dinosaurs: Mammoths and Fossil Mammals by Charlotte Lewis Brown

Book Review: After the Dinosaurs: Mammoths and Fossil Mammals by Charlotte Lewis Brown

After the Dinosaurs: Mammoths and Fossil MammalsAfter the Dinosaurs: Mammoths and Fossil Mammals by Charlotte Lewis Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

easy reader

This book does a great job talking about some of the lesser known early mammals and getting kids to imagine what they must have looked like by describing their size in terms they can understand. For instance, this one is about the size of a small car. This one could peak into a two-story house. My beginning reader who is crazy about dinosaurs loved reading this with me.

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#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: 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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#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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#Picture Book Review: Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

#Picture Book Review: Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

Ah Ha!Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher: Chronicle Books
2013

picture book, easy reader

Dr. Seuss wrote a pretty good book with 50 words. Jeff Mack has done a fantastic job with just two letters! A fight for survival, a frog falls in and out of luck one afternoon at the pond. One moment it appears he is going to be someone’s snack… the dog, the turtle, the alligator, and the flamingo all announce their intentions with an menacing (but not scary) “Ah Ha!”. The next moment, he is jumping to safety screaming “Ahhhh!” and once he is out of harms way relaxing with a sigh of relief “Ahhhh…”. He finally alludes all of them by jumping into a little kid’s jar. But he sneaks out of that (Ah ha!) and back to relax in the pond water again (Ahhhh!)

Although technically a picture book, it would be another great one for the little one just starting to read. The facial expressions of each of the animals make it easy to determine the intention of the limited text. They will get a confidence boost by being able to match vocal inflection to the illustrations.

I love it when text and illustrations pair up beautifully to tell a much bigger story. This is a great example.

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Book Review: Pig and Pug by Laura Marchesani

Book Review: Pig and Pug by Laura Marchesani

Pig and PugPig and Pug by Laura Marchesani

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
2015

A lonely pig wants a friend. One day a new animal comes to the farm that isn’t a cow, a chicken, a sheep, or a pig. It does all the things a pig does but it is NOT a big. So they can’t be friends. Or can they?

Sweet little story that is repetitive without being boring! I love finding a good easy reader! Little ones just learning to read will enjoy this one!

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